Dumb, dumb, dumb!

If there is any single policy which seems to offer the most bang for the buck, it is investing in quality pre-school for at-risk youth.  How sad then, that when the evidence keeps piling up in this direction, policy-wise, we are moving in the opposite direction:

States are drastically underfunding programs for their youngest learners now more than ever, according to a report released Monday, even as researchers and policymakers increasingly point to pre-school as a ladder to the middle class.

Funding per student for state pre-school programs has reached its lowest point in a decade, according to “The State of Preschool 2012,” the annual yearbook released by Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research. “The 2011-2012 school year was the worst in a decade for progress in access to high-quality pre-K for America’s children,” the authors wrote. After a decade of increasing enrollment, that growth stalled, according to the report. Though the 2011-2012 school year marks the first time pre-K enrollment didn’t increase along with the rate of population change.

“The state of preschool was a state of emergency” in 2012, said Steve Barnett, NIEER’s director. Between the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, pre-K spending on state programs dropped by more than $548 million overall, and $442 per student (to $3,841) when adjusted for inflation, according to the report.

Now, admittedly, not all these pre-K programs are going to have the fabulous results of the high-quality ones that have been studied.  But surely, far better than nothing.  Of course, when these kids are that much more likely to end up in jail or on welfare instead of producing income tax revenues in 15-20 years, that will some new generations’ politicians’ problem to deal with it.  Just so wrong.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Dumb, dumb, dumb!

  1. I don’t believe in formalized preschool in the general landscape of things but yes, for at-risk youth esp those from single-parent homes, it certainly has a lot to offer. Or would, with the proper funding. I talk about the glorious power of the mind in my “Sacred” series. You might chk out the new series on the impact of technology on learning also.

    To make sure you don’t end up on a diff blog of mine, which has happened to people,
    aholisticjourney.wordpress.com Diana

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