Posted: 05/18/15 10:01
by Dave Mindeman
Why would an education bill get vetoed over Pre-K? Why would a governor be so insistent on one program? What is the reason.
Well, there are several reasons and recent studies on Pre-K education show some very compelling arguments.
First, Pre-K early learning benefits are very evident...
One of the most far-reaching recent studies found marked increases in children's skills across five states: Michigan, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia. Overall, children in state pre-k posted vocabulary scores that were 31 percent higher and math gains that were 44 percent higher than those of non-participants. These gains placed pre-k children three to four months ahead of non-participants, largely due to participation in the state program. The greatest gains occurred in print awareness, where participants had an 85 percent increase, which suggests these outcomes strongly predict later reading success.
Second, there is the benefit in regards to the achievement gap. Minnesota has struggled for years with this obvious blemish on our record - the achievement gap. One of the reasons that Governor Dayton is standing so firm on Pre-K is that it can be a great benefit to that long standing achievement gap issue....
In the High/Scope study, low-income black children randomly selected to receive the comprehensive preschool program showed impressive long-term results regarding educational progress, delinquency, and earnings. Seventy-seven percent of these youngsters eventually graduated from high school, compared with 60 percent from the control group. In adulthood pre-k participants were also less likely to be arrested for violent crimes, more likely to be employed, and more likely to earn higher wages than those in the comparison group.
But there is a third major benefit and this is where the House GOP argument crashes and burns....there is a huge benefit in cost savings...
High-quality pre-k programs also provide substantial cost savings to federal, state, and local governments. Numerous studies have shown a reduced use of special education services and lower grade retention among pre-k participants. In the Abecedarian study, for example, 24 percent of pre-k children received special education services, versus 48 percent of the control group. Given the high cost of these interventions pre-k can produce significant financial benefits for school districts.
Numerous studies have proven this cost benefit analysis. For every $1 spent on Pre-K the cost savings benefit ranges from $4 up to a $10 return. That is not throwing money at the problem - that is investing in the issue for a guaranteed return.
These are the reasons that Pre-K has become the core issue in this year's budget. That is why this Governor has drawn his line in the sand. This is not just about money, this is about taking a stand on Minnesota's future.
Looking ahead to our next generation, what we do now on Pre-K could put Minnesota into the nation's top tier for education, economic growth, and stability in our budgets.
That's worth fighting for...and worth standing alongside Governor Dayton to achieve.