These 3 Advancements in Early Childhood Education Could Change Society

Even though education should begin as early as possible, there are only 15 states and the District of Columbia that require Kindergarten by law, and there are actually six states that do not even require public schools to offer Kindergarten. That is not to say anything about pre-K and preschool programs! Nonetheless, many schools and states across the nation are working to make early childhood education a priority. Here are three advancements in early childhood education that are simply game-changers for our society.

  1. Early childhood education in Michigan would slash the crime rate. By putting more money into early childhood education in Detroit, the crime rate would go down, according to a recent study.

Jose Diaz of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation conducted the study “Cost Savings of School Readiness per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit and Michigan” where the findings appear.  The research was commissioned by the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation and it suggests that investing in early childhood education could cut Detroit’s crime rate and save taxpayers in the state millions of dollars, according to a story on the study by The Detroit News. The story says that Detroit taxpayers would save around $96,000 for each child who was enrolled in a quality early education program and Michigan taxpayers would save $47,000 for each child.

The figure was derived from adding cost savings to special education, public assistance, childcare subsidies, the victims of crime and the criminal justice system. The majority of the savings would come from the criminal justice system.

These findings prompted Diaz and law enforcement officials to call on the Legislature to invest more dollars in early childhood education to help halt the alarmingly high crime rate in Detroit.

At the present time, only 4 percent of prisoners in Michigan under the age of 20 years old graduated from high school.

Learning begins at birth, which is why early education programs are so important. These programs provide an integral foundation for young minds and prepare children for success at school and in life. At-risk children who don’t receive high quality early education are more likely to drop out of school and more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

I think investing in early childhood education programs is a cost-effective way to promote positive development of children and get to the root causes of high crime in the city. I hope that Detroit can see early childhood education as an initiative that could finally pay off and cut crime.

  1. More Native Americans could go to college with some early childhood investment. The Ké’ Early Childhood Initiative convenes today in Albuquerque and will bring together 45 representatives from four American Indian tribal colleges who will discuss strategies for better early childhood education and family involvement in the community.

The meeting is sponsored by the American Indian College Fund’s Early Childhood Education program which attempts to “strengthen the role of Native families in early learning opportunities, building culturally-responsive programming with families and tribal partners.” Specifically, the representatives will look at ways the American Indian community can better prepare children for long-term academic success, targeting learning opportunities from birth to 8 years of age.

In education circles, we talk a lot about the way black and Latino students struggle in K-12 classrooms through a combination of cultural circumstances and inequality. The reality is that American Indian K-12 students are the most at-risk of any minority group for either dropping out of high school or never making it to college. The American Indian Fund reports that American Indians who earn a bachelor’s degree represent less than 1 percent of all of these degree earners. It is not shocking then to realize that 28 percent of American Indians lived in poverty compared to 15 percent of the general population, according to 2010 U.S. Census figures. A college education opens doors for a higher quality of life.

The path to college starts long before the application process, of course.

Early childhood education has such an enormous impact on how students fare throughout their school careers. It’s the reason why President Obama has called on more states to implement universal preschool programs and has ushered more funding to Head Start and other early childhood education initiatives. There is a reason why an organization with “college” in the title is going back to early childhood to strengthen the potential of future students in the American Indian community. Better quality early childhood education, and families that are on board with supporting kids through the K-12 process, will lead to an uptick of interest in college degrees and a higher percentage of college graduates too.

  1. Vermont is set to receive $33.4 million for pre-K programs from the Education Department. Vermont has been awarded $7.3 million in what is anticipated to be a $33.4 million grant for pre-K programs at public schools and Head Start agencies across the state.

In 2014, President Obama announced that he is fulfilling his promise to expand early education for thousands of children with a $1 billion investment in programs for the country’s littlest students.

Vermont was one of 18 states awarded Education Department grants to create or expand high-quality preschool programs. A total of 36 states had applied for the money.

Governor Peter Shumlin announced, “This is great news for Vermont, our children and our economic future. Vermont is one of the top states in America when it comes to early childhood education, and we are committed to being the best.”

Last year, 28 percent of America’s four-year-olds were enrolled in state-funded preschool programs. The new $1 billion investment in learning programs is for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in lower-income communities.

The education summit also highlighted a series of 60-second public service announcements that focus on various aspects of early childhood education. Actors Jennifer Garner and Julianne Moore and singers Shakira and John Legend all narrated a part and conclude with the tagline, “When we invest in them, we invest in us.”

I am thrilled about the $1 billion dollars that is dedicated towards early education and want to congratulate Vermont, as well as the other recipients of the grants. Of course I am an advocate for programs that help students of all ages, but I firmly believe focusing on our nation’s youngest students is irreplaceable.

What do you think an investment in early childhood education could do for our country?

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