School notebook:

Senator advocates early childhood education

State Sen. Patricia Torres Ray advocated increased access to early childhood education at a reception for Joyce Preschool held April 26 at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis.

Torres Ray (DFL-62) said early childhood education for Minnesota’s Latino children can help close the achievement gap that shows up when those children are teenagers.

Latino students lag far behind their white peers in high school graduation rates, she said, with only 60 percent graduating in 2004 compared to 92 percent of white students.

"I think this is a tragedy," Torres Ray said.

Joyce is a Spanish-English two-way immersion preschool in the CARAG neighborhood. Most staff members are bilingual.

Program coordinator Kristin Dykstra said the school offers scholarships and has never turned down an applicant based on ability to pay.

That stance helps it better serve the Latino immigrant community, Dykstra said.

Torres Ray, Minnesota’s first Latina state senator, said immigrant families often have difficulty accessing quality early childhood education because of language and economic barriers.

"To me, it is clear centers like Joyce are essential to our state," she said.

Ramsey concert planned for International Market Square

The Ramsey International Fine Arts Center string orchestra performs 12-1 p.m. Friday, May 11, at International Market Square, 290 Market St.

More than 200 4th- and 5th-grade students from the arts magnet school will perform their annual concert in the building’s atrium. All Ramsey students in grades 1-6 are required to play a string instrument.

A buffet lunch begins at 11 a.m. Cost is $12. To make reservations, call 668-4063.

Area C parent meeting set for May

The Area C Parent Advisory Council holds its next meeting 6:30-8:30 p.m. May 24 at Lake Nokomis Community School’s Keewaydin Campus, 5209 30th Ave. S.

The group representing Southwest public school parents plans to discuss the Middle School Status Report delivered to the School Board April 17 by Karen Pedersen, associate superintendent of middle schools. The report is posted on the district website at www.mpls.k12.mn.us.

Other discussion topics were yet to be decided.

Advisory council meetings are open to all parents. Area C Associate Superintendent Craig Vana is expected to attend.

Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com or 436-4391.