The Debate Over Improving Education Should Focus on the Early Years

Recent studies have found that the education gap between children with lower quality early experiences and those with higher quality early experiences is formed well before children enter kindergarten. Additionally, this gap tends to remain in place despite interventions targeted at children during middle childhood. “The gap is there before kids walk into kindergarten,” James Heckman has stated. “School neither increases nor reduces it.”

The his New York Times article, “Investments in Education May Be Misdirected,” Eduardo Porter took a look at this very important issue and found that:

  • The debate over how to improve the nation’s education should incorporate the most important piece: the education of infants and toddlers.
  • If children begin school with cognitive, social, and emotional deficits, no amount of targeted interventions may be enough to overcome the initial gap.
  • “Raising high school graduation rates of the most disadvantaged children to 64 percent from 41 percent would cost 35 to 50 percent more if the assistance arrived in their teens rather than before they turned 6.”
  • Public spending on higher education is more than three times as large as spending on preschool.
  • In 2008, the government spent around $10,000 per child in kindergarten- 12th grade. By contrast, 3- to 5-year-olds received $5,000 in public funds. Children under 3 received $300.

Read the complete article here and let us know what you think.

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