The case grows stronger for universal preschool – Childcare – Brief Article

The case grows stronger for universal preschool – Childcare – Brief Article – Statistical Data Included

A Business Week review of literature warns that starting an education at age five or six is too late, and poor children enter school a full year and a half behind their middle-class peers.

In a section called “Ideas for a Changing World,” writer Alexandra Starr makes a strong case that if we believe in equal opportunity and think education is the ticket to success, then it’s time to bite the bullet and give all children the same start. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore proposed spending $50 billion a year to offer preschool to every 3- and 4-year old. Spending $25 billion on pre-K for poor children alone would be more than offset by lower arrests, higher tax revenue and a better-prepared workforce, and even investing just $10 billion yearly on a mix of services for the poorest 3- and 4-year olds would make a huge difference, say experts. Quality early education programs have been shown to provide a payback of nearly $4 for every $1 invested. Are middle-class children that much better prepared for school? A University of Kansas study found 3-year-otds with professional parents used more advanced vocabularies than mothers on welfare, to say nothing of those mothers’ 3-year-olds. But early interven tion can produce remarkable results; the Abecedarian Project found that at age 21, those preschooled were more than twice as likely to be attending a four-year college. Until every child shows up for kindergarten prepared to learn, says Starr, America will continue to fall short of one of its bedrock ideals.

# 16802 BUSINESS WEEK, 8-26-02, pg 164

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