- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A new report shows Minnesota near the bottom nationally in the rate of children enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs.

The U.S. Department of Education report says about 15 percent of Minnesota’s 72,000 4-year-olds participated in such programs in the 2012-2013 school year. Only a handful of states had rates equal or lower.

Minnesota lawmakers generally agree preschool helps prepare children for success. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wants to offer universal, high-quality programs to all 4-year-olds. Republicans would rather target the neediest families.

The federal report released Tuesday says about 40 percent of the nation’s 4 million 4-year-olds are enrolled in publicly funded preschool programs. The Obama administration wants to expand such programs nationwide.

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