“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.” – John F. Kennedy
We all know the earlier our children begin learning the better. Whether it’s listening to music in the womb, reading to your child before you tuck them in at night, or enrolling your child in preschool, the benefits of early childhood education are endless. But what are these benefits? Can you name them? When you hear of funding being cut, teachers losing jobs, school buildings being outdated, and resources being scarce, does it ever really hit home? Do you ever stop to think about the long term consequences of living in a society that does not place the highest importance on educating its population?
Evidence shows that early childhood education may reduce delinquency rates, dependence on welfare, and even arrest rates. Sure, it can be a costly investment initially, but the return on that investment can yield countless benefits. Evidence also shows that early childhood education improves a child’s social skills early on. These same kids also go on to do better in school and are more likely to pursue higher education. The United States Department of Labor reported that, in 2012, a person with a bachelor’s degree, on average, earned $1,066 per week. However, a worker with only a high school degree earned $652 per week. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for a person with a bachelor’s degree, in 2012, was 4.5% compared to 8.3% for a high school graduate (link). These statistics highlight the link between education and higher wages, but the benefits of early childhood education reach far beyond one’s own bank account. With drops in delinquency and arrest rates, we see prisons, often funded with tax payer money, become less crowded. And with a drop in welfare dependence, we may finally see a break in the cycle of poverty for families who have struggled for generations.
The consequences of an uneducated workforce can not only weaken our economy, but it can also diminish our role on the global stage as other countries produce educated workers qualified to do the jobs of the future. It all begins with access to early childhood education, so the next time you hear of decreased funding, call or write your state representatives and make your voice heard. It is only when people like you and I make education a priority that our government and society will do the same.
Lynnsey @ Kids Matter