Guest commentary: Early education funding is a win for kids, Michigan

By Jim McHale/W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Over the past year, support for high-quality early childhood education programs has been gaining traction in Michigan. What began as a conversation has transformed into a movement consisting of lawmakers, parents, business leaders and communities working together to improve conditions for Michigan’s children.

The effort reached a vital milestone this week in the state budget agreement. Michigan legislative leaders approved funding that will more than double the state’s investment in public preschool through the expansion of the Great Start Readiness Program, allowing Michigan’s 4-year-olds to receive the educational opportunities they deserve.

At the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we envision a future for our home state where all children and families thrive. We applaud this critical investment in our children and our state.

At a time when the climate at the State Capitol can be difficult to navigate, it’s refreshing to see our lawmakers come together to produce such positive, forward-thinking policy. The expansion of high-quality early childhood education and school readiness programs is a major win for Michigan’s kids and families, and it could not have happened without the commitment and dedication of many individuals and organizations.

MORE COVERAGE: Michigan moves into national forefront of preschool funding

kellogg logo 5-30Supporting children at an early age is not only critically important to creating conditions that prepare them for long-term success and independence, but it also makes good business sense. Early childhood initiatives are among the most responsible, high-return strategies we can pursue toward a talented, globally competitive future workforce. According to Nobel laureate and economist James Heckman, for every $1 invested in high-quality preschool and evidenced-based early childhood programs, taxpayers save $7 in the long run due to lower rates of grade retention, special education and crime, among other things.

We have a collective responsibility to ensure the future success and well-being of Michigan’s children. By working together, we will make sure there is an educated and skilled work force ready to compete in the 21st century global economy.

While the recent legislative action is a great first step, there’s more work to be done on behalf of Michigan’s children. As lawmakers and business leaders statewide are coming to the realization that work-force development starts at birth, it’s imperative that we maintain the momentum, funding and public support for high-quality early childhood education programs in order to make Michigan a leader in business and education.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

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Comments

Duane
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 11:23am
I wonder if the people who so are paid to spend the money's others worked to earn ever consider how they were able to earn so much money that they could entrust it to others to spend. I always hear about the Foundation has such 'good intentions' when spending other people's money and yet never seem to talk about how they will be assure that the impact they desire is achieved. I suspect that they founding money the Foundation is built on uses 'good intentions' in conjunction with accountability/performance metrics. They used those to determine if what they were doing was providing the desired impact. I wonder if those spending other people's money ever apply that approach and if they ever stop their funding because 'good intentions' are delivery the expected results. If they do it is a wonder that they don't talk about those so the public can then see what works so they can lend their support. Education has proven a classic case of spending without accountability metrics or even a state expected impact. Most commonly that is due to a lack of desire to be accountable, claim success aftert throwing money at 'good intentions' and do nothing if where the money went fails.
Matt
Thu, 05/30/2013 - 5:03pm
The really fun part of the whole early education thing is that if you were to plot the number of kids and hours involved in early education each year over the last 40 years verses any number of the results stats thrown around (drop out rates, test scores etc), what do you think you would see? I haven't run this, but I can strongly guess what the correlation would look like - negative or flat at best! All going to show that the C for M crowd loves to assign causation to any correlation when they like the supposed results,(any problem they think can be solved by throwing more money at it!) as opposed to possibilities or solutions they don't like, (such as parents actually staying home and raising their own kids or maybe not celebrating and encouraging moms having kids when no such family structure exists!). It's just so much easier to advocate for throwing the money!
Duane
Fri, 05/31/2013 - 2:34pm
It is easier to put all their effort in brow beating legislators to spend other people's money, but the lack of commitment to actually making it so the kids actually benefit from all that spending is the hypocracy of their claims. Why don't they ever talk about how they will verify that the kids are actually gaining from all the spending. They must feel like all politicians it is to claim victory and walk away once they have gotten the money to be spent. I wonder if Mr. McHale has ever tried to measure the impact of other people's money he has spent or if any of the others who have pushed so hard for this spending really care about seeing if what they claim is ever achieved.
Rita Casey
Sun, 06/02/2013 - 10:39am
I would encourage you, Duane, to read the results of the Abecedarian study as well as the long term effects of the Perry Preschool Project (conducted here in Michigan). These studies offer more than correlational evidence that there are clear economic benefits to early childhood education. Read the Rand Corporations independent analysis of the effects of preschool education, sir, which are available at (http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9145/index1.html). At least you can be assured that verification of positive effects has been confirmed from well-designed and executed research on early childhood.