I published a recent post, Investing in birth-to-age-3 #education programs is a great bet!, that referenced an article published in Education Week making the case that investing in early learning programs was a good bet. In the Ed Week article, there was a reference to a study out of the MIT Workplace Center that also substantiated the correlation between investing in early learning programs for young children and gains later in life.
In my post, I wrote:
Let’s invest now and not be faced with what Schippers suggest might be too little too late. Every day we wait, more and more children are being left unprepared for school and unprepared for becoming a productive member of society.
In another post, Added value from effective #pre-k programs, reform requires courage, I tried to make the case for continuing to invest in Head Start, a federal program that supports young children and their families so that they are ready for school. Head Start’s support addresses a variety of needs that poorer families have, which if unmet result in their children being unprepared for their future schooling. I wrote:
The other program that provides support for early learning is Head Start (click here for Head Start of Georgia). Since 1965 Head Start (click here for national office of Head Start) has provided support to families that otherwise could not afford early learning programs. As indicated, research does point to the value of providing young children with high-quality early learning programs as a way to close the achievement gap that we see in their later school years. Head Start’s approach in promoting school readiness has been to provide wrap-around services to address a child’s cognitive, social-emotional, health and safety needs while supporting a family and the parents’ participation in their child’s education.
In a recent Education Week article, Focus on Youngest, Neediest Endures, written by Christina Samules, she makes a compelling case for why we need to invest in Head Start and the thousands of programs it supports. Head Start currently costs US taxpayers about $8 billion dollars a year. The resources reach upwards of 1 million children and their families. At a cost of $8,000 per child and family that seems like a bargain if the resources are invested in helping the child and family become school-ready. It seems like a no-brainer. While there are some problems that Head Start faces, they can be resolved through the efforts of committed and creative educators.
Put Head Start spending into context with regard to spending taxpayer dollars on other “big-ticket items.” We have little trouble spending money on building and maintaining a nuclear submarine. We spend about $30 billion dollars over the life of a sub to build and maintain it. That’s ONE submarine! Insidedefense.com reports the following statistics.
Buying and operating a dozen new nuclear ballistic missile submarines will cost the Defense Department $347 billion over the life of the boats, according to a memo signed this month by the Pentagon’s acquisition chief.
How many of us actually benefit from the dozen submarines circulating the globe. Politicians would say that they are part of our national defense. A vital investment! I would argue that if we don’t spend the $8 billion dollars on Head Start, resulting in many of the 1 million children getting left behind and becoming disenfranchised from society, there is a greater cost to our national security.
Say we only had 8 nuclear submarines navigating the globe. We would say about $120 billion dollars which could go towards funding Head Start for 15 years and helping 15 million children and their families potentially break the cycle of poverty. Not a bad tradeoff!