The Importance of Funding Early Childhood Education


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Supporting pre-k and early childhood education in Texas is important to the future of the state. There isn’t a pre-k study out
there that hasn’t shown a direct
correlation between investment in
high quality pre-k programs and
dramatic improvements in  
economic development.  

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The Importance of Funding Early Childhood Education

  1. 1. Quality Public Pre-K: Investing in Our Future Workforce
  2. 2. Last year, in an effort to balancethe state budget, the Texaslegislature made unprecedented cutsto public education. As a result,funding for high quality full daypre-k programs decreased by $223million.
  3. 3. Pre-k programs have felt thesedrastic cuts in the form of increased class size, fewer teacher aides,fewer inclusion and special ed staff, and reduced instructional time.
  4. 4. Cutting funding for high quality pre- k programs will impact future economic development at a local level.
  5. 5. There isn’t a pre-k study outthere that hasn’t shown a directcorrelation between investment in high quality pre-k programs and dramatic improvements in economic development.
  6. 6. How Pre-K Programs Promote Economic Development: !   Higher per capita earnings gained by increasing adult labor force in place of child participants !   Former child participants stay in the same state or metro area as adults and contribute in a higher quality way to the local workforce than they did as children !   Short-term benefits: increases in property values !   Long-term benefits: stronger labor supply !   Early childhood programs have the most rigorous evidence of large effects per dollar investedSource: Timothy J. Bartik, Senior Economist, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Presentation to National Business Leader Summit on Early Childhood Investment, Boston, Massachusetts.
  7. 7. Other Impacts of Early Childhood Education Investments on Economic Productivity and Decreased Cost to Government: !   fewer special education referrals and less grade repetition !   higher rates of high school graduation !   fewer behavioral problems and delinquency !   higher employment earnings !   less welfare dependency !   less smoking, drug use, and depression !   reduced schooling costs, social services costs, crime costs, and healthcare costs !   less teen pregnancy and smokingSource: Barnett, W. S. (2002) Early childhood education. In A. Molnar (Ed.) School reform proposals: The research evidence(pp.1-26). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
  8. 8. The Bush study at Texas A&M found that, for every dollar spent on quality full day pre-k, there’s a 350% return on investment.
  9. 9. So, how is it a good idea to cut their funding?
  10. 10. Pre-k programs suffer from themisperception that what they provideamounts to little more than glorified babysitting, and therefore they aren’t as important as other public school programs.
  11. 11. Perception?
  12. 12. To the untrained eye, what happens in pre-k looks a lot like play. As well it should, because play is the work of a young child. But the play is all intentional and well-planned.
  13. 13. Take the Lion Lane School in Spring Branch ISD...
  14. 14. According to Sharee Cantrell, the school’s director, Texas pre-kprograms have evolved over the past decade as assessment data showed that children were capable of absorbing more information in a play-based environment than previously thought.
  15. 15. Pre-K programs vary.But those, like Lion Lane, led by teacherswith advanced degrees in early childhoodeducation, base their instruction on each child’s developmental stage. Lessons aregeared within a structured curriculum to the next step for each child. Kids are never at desks filling outworkbooks, but they are always learning.
  16. 16. When Spring Branch ISD opened fullday pre-k centers 11 years ago, theyhad two goals in mind:(1) to show kids that learning at schoolis fun; and(2) to focus on their social andemotional development.
  17. 17. By the middle of the year, the kidshad learned ALL of their letters andsounds without any direct instruction -- just lots of exposure to good reading, writing, play and modeling.
  18. 18. Kids absorbed the information in a natural setting. Now Spring Branch ISD has a 9-week curriculum for each subject matter. And, because it’s a full-day program, studentshave time to work on projects in the afternoon as an authentic application of the reading and writing skills they’ve learned in the morning.
  19. 19. “Kids are able to do a lot more than we give them credit for. It’s amazing how quickly they can pick up on things if you let them.” Sharee Cantrell, Director (Principal) of The Lion Lane School