Murphy, Pawlenty offer differing early education plans

DFL candidate for governor Erin Murphy and Gov. Mark Dayton highlighted her plan to expand preschool opportunities during a visit to a St. Paul Head Start classroom. Tim Pugmire | MPR News

DFL candidate for governor Erin Murphy said Tuesday her plans for public education in Minnesota would build on Gov. Mark Dayton’s legacy, while Republican Tim Pawlenty said he would veer away from Dayton’s approach if voters return him to the office he held for eight years.

Murphy announced her education agenda with Dayton by her side at a Head Start center in St. Paul. As governor, Murphy said she will expand preschool opportunities, work to close racial achievement gaps and beef up career preparation courses.

“Investing in education, from early learning and all the way through our K-12 and preparation for college education and technical education, is the way that we have built our future,” Murphy said. “I’m going to continue that tradition.”

Murphy faces Lori Swanson and Tim Walz in the August 14 DFL primary. Swanson announced plans this week to appoint a “career and technical education czar” to address workforce needs. Walz, a former teacher, has also made education funding a top priority.

Meanwhile Pawlenty spent the day campaigning in Rochester on education and other issues.

During a press conference, Pawlenty outlined an approach to preschool that would differ from that of Dayton.

“If you have limited resources to dedicate to early childhood learning, let’s first prioritize that help to families and parents most in need, most at risk,” he said. “That’s why we support using the bulk of that money or as much as possible for scholarships right to families.”

Pawlenty is running in the August 14 Republican primary against the GOP endorsed candidate Jeff Johnson.

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