Back to School Memo: The DFL is Working to Improve Education for Every Child


TO: Interested Parties
FROM: The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party
DATE: September 8th, 2017
RE: Back to School: The Many Ways the DFL is Working to Improve Education for Every Child

The State Fair has ended, and Labor Day is behind us.  Now, as students are back in school this week, here is a look at the many ways DFLers are working to improve education for every child in Minnesota.

Investing in Every Student

A good education should be the basic right of every child. Investing in our students not only brightens each student’s future, it also pays dividends for our country’s prosperity and competitive standing in the world. The DFL is working to increase investment in every student throughout our state.

  • Governor Dayton and DFL legislators have successfully secured $2 billion to improve educational opportunities for students across Minnesota over the past six-and-a-half years. These funds help ensure students have access to a quality education composed of skilled teachers, proper learning materials, and safe classrooms.
    • While DFLers proposed further investment in our children’s education this legislative session, the Republican-controlled legislature failed to fully fund the proposals. Instead, they chose to prioritize huge tax giveaways for big businesses, the super-wealthy, and tobacco companies over our children’s futures.
  • Our DFLers in Congress are focused on strengthening our commitment to provide adequate federal funding for our schools. They are consistent advocates for increasing investment in our schools and ensuring every student has access to a world-class education.

Improving Opportunity for Youngest Learners

Investing in high-quality early childhood education is one of the most important investments we can make. We know from study after study that a quality early education can help close achievement gaps and produce significantly more value for each dollar invested. The bottom line is that investing in early childhood education is good for children, parents, and communities in Minnesota and across our nation.

  • DFLers are fighting to expand access to early learning for tens of thousands of children – including all-day kindergarten for every school district, voluntary pre-kindergarten programs in our schools, and thousands of Early Learning Scholarships for kids.
    • Since taking office, Governor Dayton and DFLers have secured $257 million to help young learners in Minnesota attend free, school-based pre-kindergarten programs. Over 22,500 students are attending pre-school this fall because of these investments.
    • Governor Dayton and DFLers have also made significant investments in Early Learning Scholarships, allowing16,400 children to enroll in early learning programs across Minnesota this year.
    • Unfortunately, Republicans in the state legislature stood in the way of Governor Dayton’s proposal to expand voluntary pre-kindergarten for an additional 17,100 kids in our state. Despite the incredible demand for this funding from school districts across the state, Republicans only allowed for funding to meet less than 25 percent of the need.
    • DFLers have fought to increase access to all-day Kindergarten. Thanks to their continued efforts, over 99 percent of Minnesota school districts now offer free all-day kindergarten.
  • Our DFLers in Congress are working to expand early learning opportunities by increasing federal support for child care, Head Start, and Early Head Start.

Improving Broadband Access

Access to high-speed internet is critical for our students to compete in the 21st century. Students need the internet to complete assignments, but a lack of access to high-speed broadband means many students in our state, particularly in Greater Minnesota, are victims of a digital divide.

  • DFLers at the state and federal level are working to ensure every Minnesotan has access to affordable, reliable broadband internet no matter where they live. They continue to fight for strong investments to increase broadband access throughout the state.
  • Governor Dayton and DFLers committed more than $65 million in 2014 and 2016 to extending broadband connectivity to Minnesota homes, businesses, and community institutions.
    • Dayton called for an additional $60 million investment this past session, but the Republican-controlled legislature approved only $20 million—a major letdown for communities across the state who are depending on state investment to improve their internet access.
  • DFLers in Minnesota’s Federal Congressional Delegation have been tireless leaders in fighting to get high-speed internet service to rural areas in our state. They have pressured federal agencies to advance broadband deployment in rural communities and successfully secured millions of dollars in federal support to improve broadband access.

Supporting Teachers in the Classroom

Great teachers are critical to students’ success in school and in life. But each year, Minnesota schools lose an estimated 5,800 teachers to retirement, relocation to other states, and career changes – with Greater Minnesota communities hit especially hard. We need high standards for our teachers and compensation that reflects the responsibilities society places on them.

  • To ensure students in our state receive a world-class education, the Governor and Legislature successfully pushed for a $2.7 million investment in teacher workforce programs this year.
  • Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled legislature passed a provision that would undermine the quality of teachers in Minnesota classrooms. Governor Dayton has called on the legislature to rescind this policy to protect the distinction of the teaching profession and ensure teachers are held to high professional standards.