Early Childhood Education is the Best Return on Investment

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in The Hill:

We know that learning starts at birth, and the preparation for learning starts before birth. Eighty percent of a child’s brain develops between birth and the age of 3, with much of the child’s intellect, personality and skills developed before he or she begins kindergarten. A solid initial investment in young children will save us billions in future spending on remedial education, criminal justice, health and welfare programs.

Harkin is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies.

The Gap is There Before Kids Walk into Kindergarten

In an NY Times Article by Eduardo Porter:

[Heckman’s study] suggests that the angry, worried debate over how to improve the nation’s mediocre education — pitting the teachers’ unions and the advocates of more money for public schools against the champions of school vouchers and standardized tests — is missing the most important part: infants and toddlers.

In other words:

Erick Hanushek, an expert on the economics of education at Stanford, put it more directly: “We are subsidizing the wrong people and the wrong way.

The Business Case for Early Childhood Education

John Pepper and James Zimmerman in a NY Times Op-Ed:

In short, early educational interventions really matter, and have long-term consequences. Children who are not proficient in reading by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than children who read at or above grade level — and 13 times more likely, if they live in poverty. A child’s brain grows to roughly 85 percent of its full capacity in the first five years of life. These are also the years when a child’s sense of what is possible is being formed.