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Research: Early Childhood Education is Critical Infrastructure for America's Future

There are few public expenditures that would generate a greater return on investment than President Joe Biden's Early Childhood Education proposal. Biden campaigned on providing pre-K education to every 3- and 4-year-old in the United States and it's a core component of his "American Families Plan." Research tells us that the plan would improve educational outcomes, create a more just society, and enable parents of young children to participate fully in the workforce.

Moreover, providing early childhood education is a necessary component to a successful social justice agenda because it's a vehicle to create a level playing field for all the nation's children. While wealthier parents can pay for quality pre-K instruction, working class parents often can't afford such programs and that educational divide can impact the students throughout their lives. Some years ago, the North Carolina legislature summarized the research like this:

NC Leg.Gov: "In summary, while pre–K for all children may have the greatest total impact, the largest per-child impact is clearly on disadvantaged children (9). Longitudinal research on low-income children in high-quality pre–K programs indicates that these children, compared with their peers who did not participate, exhibit stronger early reading and math skills (3) and show significant gains in social and emotional skills, reduced grade retention, reduced placement in special education, increased likelihood of being in school at age 21, and increased likelihood of attending a four-year university."

New research, published in June, confirms the long-term gains from pre-K programs, even for the next generation.

New York Times: "Expanding free early childhood education could lead to greater earnings, higher levels of education and lower levels of participation in crime, according to research from James J. Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago.
“You’re creating a ladder into the middle class,” Mr. Heckman said."
"Mr. Heckman’s research on the Perry Preschool Project, which gave two years of high-quality education to disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds in Ypsilanti, Mich., found a return on investment of 7 to 10 percent per year based on increased chool and career achievement. More recently, Mr. Heckman and his colleagues found that compared with children of a control group, children of the original participants benefited from their parents’ higher average earnings and were more likely to grow up in stable two-parent households."

The Bottom Line: If you are serious about providing an equal opportunity for all the nation's children and creating a more equitable society, then investing more into early childhood education is the way to go.

#education #research

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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