Very good little piece from the Atlantic Cities discussing the importance of getting involved in children’s lives and giving them a positive societal influence as soon as possible.
There are two important factors to take away from the article. The first is the overall effect of earlier schooling for kids:
A policy of free preschool for all poor children would have a raft of cost-effective benefits for society and the economy: It would increase social mobility, reduce income inequality, raise college graduation rates, improve criminal behavior (saving some of the societal expenses associated with it), and yield higher tax revenue thanks to an increase in lifetime wages…every dollar invested in quality early childhood development yields a 7 to 10 percent return, per child per year, including even younger than preschool.
The difficult part of this, of course, is that it isn’t a quick reward so politicians aren’t really interested. What does the average elected official really think about pushing for a policy that won’t show any effects of paying off for at least 20 years? Not much and that is why it is such a mountain to climb when trying to create this type of thing legislatively.
The second important factor is the recognition of the negative effects we are letting continue by not implementing earlier childhood education policies:
A child of parents who never went to college is less likely to go to college herself…And the clustering of poverty in whole parts of town threatens to cut her children off from access to good schools and healthy neighborhoods.
In other words, it’s a cycle of poverty. We’ve seen how class mobility in the U.S. has decreased as time goes on and this is a factor adding to that. If we look at the poorer areas of our cities and wonder why things do not change, it’s because we haven’t been willing to truly make the right moves in terms of investing in the future and we are paying a price for that now and will continue to do so for years to come.
This type of investment is not one that will give us instant results. But ideas like this are rational steps in the right direction to ensure life opportunities grow for so many more citizens across America.