Early childhood education has been in the spotlight lately, even garnering mention in President Obama’s State of the Union address Jan. 20. The president wants to make preschool available to all 4-year-olds in the country. Why should you care about the issue? Here are three things you should know about the benefits of pre kindergarten education:
- Early Education Can Help America Compete
Government-sponsored early education can seem like a radical proposal in the U.S., since we as a country tend to have very skeptical views on government programs. But virtually every other developed country in the world offers early education programs, and those services drive their economic and military growth. The U.S. is falling behind Mexico, Chile and Russia when it comes to preschool offerings.
- Early Education Has Economic Benefits
Early childhood education has economic benefits both for the individual children who receive preschool learning and the country as a whole. Children who attend preschool or pre kindergarten are more likely to be academically successful and get higher-paying jobs in the future. But the economic benefits don’t stop with increased earning potential.
Investing in early education actually has a high return for society. High-quality early education has been shown to have a 10% return for the public; the stock market’s average return is only 7.2%. This is because children who receive good educations at a young age need fewer services later in life, ranging from remedial education in high school to welfare as adults. Universal early education also benefits the parents of these children because it lessens the costs associated with child care and allows both parents to fully participate in the economy.
- Early Education Is a Bipartisan Issue
Divisive politics has made this issue seem more controversial than it really is. While conservatives and liberals sometimes disagree on how early childhood education programs should be paid for, it’s really not a Republican or Democratic issue; in 2013, for example, 27 governors included early education in their state address. Fourteen of those — slightly more than half — were Republicans. Better education offers more opportunities for American students, and that’s something that crosses party lines.
Why else should Americans be more involved in advocating for expanded access to early education programs? Discuss in the comments.