Education legislation is on the docket next week at the Capitol.
The Minnesota House and Senate are expected to take up legislation next week involving investments in education, including all-day kindergarten, early learning and tuition help for college students.
On Sunday afternoon, Gov. Mark Dayton was joined by House Speaker Paul Thissen, House Majority Leader Erin Murphy, State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, DFL legislators, teachers and parents for the "Invest in Education Pep Rally" at St. Paul Central High School.
"It's great to see a governor and a Legislature arguing over how much more money to give education and not less," Dayton said. "That's what we're going to do."
On Saturday, the House passed a $900 million budget bill outlining the path they hope the state will take in the next two years. That plan would pay school districts to offer all-day kindergarten, set aside $50 million for early-childhood education scholarships and increase the basic funding for K-12 schools by $315 million -- a more than 4 percent increase.
All-day kindergarten has been on Minnesota's agenda for years, but it never received enough votes to pass. A recent push for "all-day K" funding by a group of DFL state representatives will likely pave the way for such legislation to be considered and debated again.
Read more: Is this the year Minnesota passes all-day Kindergarten?
The budget plan also includes some very high goals. By 2027, lawmakers would like to see the achievement gap between white and minority students closed. It also aims for a 100 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent literacy rate by third grade.
"I do think they're achievable," Cassellius said. "When students come and they have high quality pre-K experiences and they come ready for kindergarten and we give them all-day kindergarten, kids can learn and be reading by grade level at third grade."
At the high school level, the plan would replace the exit exam required for graduation with a test similar to the ACT test students take to get into college.
Cassellius also said that remedial classes will be offered to high school students if there is a skill deficit for a college goal, thus saving money for families and helping students graduate sooner.