Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?

This is a powerful headline that is questioning our priorities. This issue was posed by Nicholas D. Kristof in the New York Times. He believes that it is a moment of opportunity for the country to establish a national early childhood program.

In his opinion piece, he explains that there is a growing body of research that suggest that the best way to address American economic inequality, poverty, and crime is through early childhood education programs. I would add to that assertion that it must be quality early childhood programs.

Kristof identified national polls that show that this initiative is supported by 84% Democrats and 60 % of Republicans. Even when these programs stall in DC, many states and localities are moving ahead. In Michigan, for example, they are doubling their efforts for early childhood programs. This support is based on the long-term research done with the Weikart High Scope program that showed positive impacts on children who attended the quality program. These participants are now adults and had higher graduation rates, are less involved in crime, and more of them are employed.

David Deming of Harvard, in a long-term study of Head Start, found that academic advantages may fade, but “life skill” gains do not.

The article concludes by saying “children can’t vote, and they have no highly paid lobbyist” so it is critical that we as early childhood educators speak up. Let’s work together to make sure children’s needs and voices can be heard!

Read the entire article for yourself in the New York Times, Sunday review: