All Day Kindergarten and The Achievement Gap

May 21, 2013

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has continuously advocated for state funding of all day kindergarten and last month, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill which provides for this funding. Minnesota has struggled with achievement gaps between white students and students of color.  Minnesota is considered to have one of the worst achievement gaps in the nation. Reducing that achievement gap is one of the goals of increased funding for all day kindergarten.

The bills can be found with these citations:

2013 MN S.F.453 (NS)
2013 MN H.F. 630 (NS)

These documents are also the first two that appear if you search in Minnesota Proposed & Enacted Legislation with the following query:

all-day /5 kindergar! & DA(last 6 months)

To explore the idea of all day kindergarten outside of Minnesota, I ran the following plain language search in secondary sources:


My initial results include:

Luke van Houwelingen, Tuition-Based All-Day Kindergartens in the Public Schools: A Moral and Constitutional Critique, 14 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 367 (2007)

Lisa M. Brooks, Full-Day Kindergarten: A Step Towards Breaking the Cycle of Poverty in Indiana, 37 J.L. & Educ. 437 (2008)

Eugenia Tunstall, The Price of Knowledge: Funding Full-Day Kindergarten in Arizona, 39 Ariz. St. L.J. 1325 (2007)

Changing my search by to include “achievement gap” yields these useful sources:

Floyd D. Weatherspoon, Racial Justice and Equity for African-American Males in the American Educational System: A Dream Forever Deferred, 29 N.C. Cent. L.J. 1 (2006)

James E. Ryan, A Constitutional Right to Preschool?, 94 Cal. L. Rev. 49 (2006)

Erin E. Lawson, Fulfilling the Promise of Education to South Carolina’s at-Risk Children: A New Preschool Initiative in South Carolina, 58 S.C. L. Rev. 1025 (2007)


Head Start Research

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed to provide expanded preschool access, the purpose being to reduce the achievement gap between wealthy and poor children. See 2/14/13 Reuters News 20:24:28. But there are concerns as to the effectiveness of preschool programs on the achievement gap. Head Start is a federally subsidized early childhood education program, whose focus is on low-income children from infancy to kindergarten. A recent study, provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), showed relatively nominal benefits. See 2/14/13 Reuters News 20:24:28. Supporters claim that the problems exist because Head Start has been inadequately supported. HHS Head Start research can be accessed at the Office of Planning Research and Evaluation.

Governor Messages

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed education bills in the past because they failed to fund all day kindergarten.  To search governor messages, navigate to the state legislative history page, run a search like this one:

adv: DAYTON & all-day-KINDERGARTEN and veto!

Then, filter by document type: