Just as the New England Patriots have an award-winning hero in quarterback Tom Brady, early education has a Nobel Prize-winning champion in University of Chicago economist James Heckman.
Heckman’s public policy position is simple and powerful: To make society stronger, invest in early childhood development. Drawing on more than a decade of his own research, Heckman argues that high-quality preschool prepares children to succeed and makes them less likely to enroll in special education classes, become pregnant as teenagers or land in jail.
In addition to a clear message, Heckman is an effective messenger. He’s quoted in newspaper stories, and he has a pervasive social media presence, making his case on his website, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
“What I learned that became so important,” he explains in one his videos, “was that investing in people was as important as buildings or structures or roads.” And if policy makers seek a 10 percent annual rate of return on their investment, Heckman says, they should invest in early childhood. (more…)