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Early Childhood Education Research Report

"Let us commit that by 2018, all 3- and 4-year-olds in Minnesota will have access to quality, affordable early childhood education." - Governor Mark Dayton, State of State Address, April 2014

The Context for this Study

Multiple research reports confirm that high-quality early learning is crucial to a child's academic achievement and lifelong economic well-being. Half of Minnesota kids are unprepared for kindergarten, too many never catch up and eventually drop out of high school. Minnesota has one of the widest achievement gaps in the nation.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Minnesota's Asian population stood at 202,135, a 51% increase since the 2000 U.S. Census. The Asian population is projected to be the fastest growing in the state over the next 30 years, eventually becoming an important portion of the taxpaying workforce needed to support a retiring baby boomer generation.

By 2018, 70% of jobs in Minnesota will require at least some post-secondary education. However, 19.6% of Asian Minnesotans ages 25 and older have less than high school education and 17.4% have only a high school diploma or GED. According to a report published by the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (2012), Cambodian, Hmong, and Vietnamese American children between the ages of 3 and 4 in Minnesota are less likely than whites to be enrolled in preschool. In contrast, almost 70% of Chinese American children of the same age attend preschool. By all measures, from income to employment, educational attainment, homeownership, English language proficiency, and health, the Hmong, Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Karen ethnic groups fall far behind the Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, and Korean groups in Minnesota. Together, these five Southeast Asian (SEA) ethnic groups comprise more than half of the Asian Pacific Minnesotan population.

Rationale for this Study

There is a dearth of knowledge on the low participation rate of Southeast Asian American children in early childhood education programs. As such, when asked by legislators why preschool-age children from some SEA ethnic groups enroll in early learning programs at such a low rate, the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM) has been able to offer only conjectures. Given Minnesota's policy focus on early learning, federal and state funding designated to improve kindergarten readiness, and education disparity that has long plagued our SEA community, CAPM believes that additional and strategic effort is necessary to better understand the barriers to early childhood education for SEA children. Such is the rationale for this report.

Objectives of this Study

~To inform the Governor's office and Legislature on the current reality of SEA children's early childhood education, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
~To offer policy/programmatic recommendations that aim to increase SEA children's early learning opportunities.
~To serve as a reliable resource for advocacy groups, students, academics, community organizations, non-profits, education experts, and other stakeholders with an interest in SEA children's early learning.

Research Questions

1. What early learning opportunities do Southeast Asian children have?
2. What do Southeast Asian caretakers believe about early childhood development?
3. What factor(s) promote or hinder Southeast Asian children's early learning?

NEW:Our Early Childhood Education Report on Southeast Asian Children is now published.

Report
Early Childhood Education Report

Infographic Summary
Early Childhood Education Report Infographic Summary

Databook
Early Childhood Education Report Databook

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