When President Obama made early childhood education a priority in his State of the Union address, it was a call for action. Our Legislature is considering Gov. Dayton’s budget, which includes a $44 million initiative for this and proposes all-day kindergarten, part of a total omnibus education bill requesting $340 million in funding.
Research shows that brain development between 0 and 3 years of age is at the greatest rate, and programs at that stage are the most effective in “positioning poor children for lifelong success.”
Some dispute this outcome, citing a “fade-out” after initial benefits due to other environmental factors: poor housing; violence in the home; poverty. We can only correct all these societal ills by major concerted effort on all fronts.
But we can start these educational programs, now.
Proponents argue that lasting effects have been tracked over time: more high school and college graduates; less negative involvement with law enforcement; more likely to be employed.
Some experts have estimated that for every $1 spent on early childhood education, the returns are $4 to $16 in benefits.
Since the legislative session will shortly come to a close, we should be letting our representatives know our wishes on this issue. If the benefits of funding these programs are anywhere near $4 on the dollar, or more, that’s a much better investment than playing the stock market!
And where better to put our tax money than in our coming generation?