Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Solve the Economic Crisis by Increasing Funding for Early Childhood

A recent article in the New York Times Opinion Pages details how increasing funding for early childhood programs would help solve the dramatic economic inequality between America's richest and poorest citizens.  Written by Nicholas D. Kristof, "Occupy the Classroom" explains that the wealthiest 1% of our nation has more money than the remaining 99% combined!

And how do we solve this problem?  Kristof says, "The single step that would do the most to reduce inequality has nothing to do with finance at all. It’s an expansion of early childhood education."

He goes on to explain that a quality education is the single most important factor in helping someone climb out of poverty.  Successful, quality early childhood experiences set the stage for success in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education, making early childhood a critical time.

The article sites a study on the Perry Preschool program.  This high quality preschool served disadvantaged children in Michigan in the 1960s.
Compared with a control group, children who went through the Perry program were 22 percent more likely to finish high school and were arrested less than half as often for felonies. They were half as likely to receive public assistance and three times as likely to own their own homes.
A later study comparing children who attended Head Start programs to their siblings who did not attend found that Head Start alumni were less likely to have repeated grades in elementary school, were less likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities, and displayed improved health later in life.
If you'd like to read more, you can find the full article here.

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