The message is spreading across the country: Early education is an effective, evidence-based way to give children the strong start they need. As political leaders take up the cause, early education is being featured in local and national news. Here’s a roundup of recent stories.
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“Springfield officials say they’ll use casino revenues, other funding to increase access to early education programs,” in the Republican on Masslive.com, December 9, 2013
If MGM Resorts International is awarded a license to run a casino in Springfield, the city will receive $2.5 million each year for community programs, according to this article.
“Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, following a meeting with various city and schools officials and early childhood education advocates, said he is committed to using a portion of casino revenues to expand access to quality preschool programs,” the article says.
“Sarno said the specific amount he will pledge for the early education initiative is not yet determined, but will be used to leverage additional funds from philanthropic organizations, the business sector and the state.
“’If we are ever going to knock down poverty and public safety issues in urban America, education is the key,’ Sarno said.”
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“Pre-K Education Is a Long-Term Winner: At $10,000 per child yearly, high-quality early education is a bargain,” by Austan Goolsbee, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2013
University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee has been watching the budget showdown in Congress with what he describes in the Wall Street Journal as “a sense of dread.”
Nonetheless, he says, common ground could be found.
“If we are committed to evidence, though, there’s one area where we ought to be able to agree: early-childhood education. Investments in pre-kindergarten education have among the highest payoffs of any government policy,” Goolsbee writes.
“Granted, quality doesn’t come cheap. The generally accepted level of spending to achieve excellent early education is $10,000 annually per student, though the long-term benefits far exceed the money spent.”
Goolsbee says there are already “good ideas on the table,” pointing to President Obama’s preschool expansion plan as well as a preschool bill filed by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Representative George Miller (D-Calif.).
“Regardless of whether you agree with these approaches, you prefer different methods, or you insist that every penny of this spending must be offset with cuts elsewhere,” Goolsbee writes, “we should be able to agree that investing in America’s young children is fundamental to long-term U.S. growth. Other countries—and not just France and Sweden—are taking notice. China has pledged to increase preschool enrollment 50% by 2020. Mexico and India have made similar pledges.
“The forester’s motto says that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is today. Is it too late to get an arborist into the budget negotiations?”
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“Universally Available, Publicly Funded Early Education,” by Arthur MacEwan, Communities & Banking, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s magazine, Winter 2014
“Universally available, publically funded early childhood education would be a benefit not only to children and their families, but to society,” MacEwan, a University of Massachusetts Boston economist writes in this article.
“The United States provides free public education for children from kindergarten through high school. So why do we require that parents of younger children either pay for early education programs or apply for government programs targeted at the poor?”
“Naturally, publicly funding universal pre-K would not be cheap — until you do a cost-benefit analysis and compare all the programs that struggle to compensate for educational deficiencies,” as the Fed explains on its blog, thecentralpremise.org
MacEwan says that universal, publicly funded preschool would benefit children and spare both low- and middle-income families from having to pay the cost of high-quality programs.
“Half of the three- and four-year-olds nationwide (and many younger children) are already enrolled in day-care programs, and more would be but for parents’ financial constraints. Greater public funding for early childhood education targeted at children from low-income families would be a step forward, but not a big step forward.
“After all, we fund K–12 schools through our taxes. We don’t fund the K–12 schools simply for kids from low-income families. We don’t have a sliding scale. We treat everyone the same. A ‘common school,’ with all its warts, has been one of the great social and economic accomplishments of our society. We should recognize that and provide the same for education in the formative years of cognitive and social development.”
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“Unconditional Love and a Legacy of Early Education,” by Valerie Jarrett, Politico, December 5, 2013
A senior advisor to President Obama, Jarrett wrote an essay about her personal connection to early education in an essay featured by Politico.
“It was a sunny afternoon in Chicago in the summer of 2004, when I invited then-State Senator Barack Obama and his family to my parents’ home for our regular Sunday barbecue,” Jarrett writes. “At one point, I realized I had lost track of the senator and quickly scanned the yard for him. When I found him, he was engaged in what looked like a very serious conversation with a woman who was clearly more intent on making her point than giving him the slightest moment of reprieve to put a forkful of potato salad in his mouth. As I got closer, it became clear that the conversation was indeed much more intense than one might expect for backyard banter. They were discussing the importance of investing in early childhood development, and I could tell by the senator’s face that he had stopped eating not merely to be respectful but to make sure he didn’t miss a word.”
Who was this woman who would not let the future president eat?
Jarrett explains, “When I reached the two of them, I lightly put my hand on the woman’s shoulder and said, ‘Mom … can we let this poor man eat?!’
“’He can eat later,’ she responded. ‘This is important.’”