The Benefits of High Quality Preschool Education Programs Are Multi-generational
New research conducted by economics Nobel laureate professor James J. Heckman and co-author Ganesh Karapakula has found that high quality preschool programs have a multi-generational impact that "strengthens families and can break the cycle of poverty." Their research has profound implications for policy-makers considering similar programs in their communities today.
Tuscon.com: "Heckman’s research follows the adults who in the 1960s were disadvantaged children attending high-quality preschool in Ypsilanti, Michigan, that is now known as the Perry Preschool Project."
Michigan Radio.org: Researchers recruited 123 “high-risk” children, a designation they based on IQ and income, to participate. Half of the group received an enriched preschool program. The other half was a control group, and received no intervention.
Heckman and other researchers have followed this group of children over the last 50 years to gauge the long-term impact of high quality preschool programs. In earlier studies of the Perry Preschool Project, Heckman documented the benefits to the at-risk children who participanted.
Heckman: "Treatment in Perry significantly increased the participants’ employment, health, cognitive and socioemotional skills and reduced the male participants’ criminal activity, especially violent crime."
In their recent research, Heckman and Karapakula sought to determine if the children's participation had any impact on the next generation.
Heckman: "Heckman and his co-author found substantial second-generation effects on education, employment, crime, school suspensions and health. The children of participants were less likely to be suspended from school, and more likely to complete regular or any other form of high school and to be employed full-time with some college experience. While present for both male and female children of participants, the wide range of beneficial effects are particularly strong for the male children of participants, especially those of male participants."
These results should reassure policy-makers that tax dollars spent on early childhood education will pay long-term dividends to their communities.
Heckman: "These new findings indicate that high-quality early childhood programs have the potential to lift multiple generations out of poverty. Those treated in Perry were able to build the foundations for stronger family lives that resulted in larger gains for their children, despite living in similar or worse neighborhoods than the untreated families. The children of Perry participants are more educated, healthy, gainfully employed citizens who are more productive members of society."
By: Don Lam & Curated Content