“High-quality early childhood programs are great economic and social equalizers – they supplement the family lives of disadvantaged children by teaching consistent parenting and by giving children the mentoring, encouragement and support available to functioning middle-class families.” – James J. Heckman, from his September 14th New York Times opinion-piece “Lifelines for Poor Children”
It is a sickening statistic: since 2008, the percentage of children living in poverty in Connecticut has risen 17%. Although Connecticut is better off than the country as a whole, this means that more than one in seven children has lived in poverty since 2012.* In his op-ed piece “Lifelines for Poor Children” James J. Heckman argues that there is evidence to support that early childhood education programs are worth the investment. Studies show that high quality early childhood is not only beneficial to a child’s learning, but also their health and ultimate economic and life outcomes. When we invest into our children, we invest back into our economy on so many levels.
We echo Heckman’s plea to his reader, begging the question “why aren’t we moving forward and changing our ways by making investments in life-changing early childhood development for disadvantaged children”? To take his plea a step further, why are we afraid to make a change in our education system? Why is our attitude toward our children’s education complacent? Why are we allowing politics (and what is “convenient”) to overshadow our children’s futures? President Obama has proposed a complex early childhood education initiative that combines family visitation, infant health and development, early learning and more effective preschooling at ages 4 and 5. This is a shift that we strongly encourage, one that has the potential to bridge the achievement gap we so plainly see in our country and across our state.
Our children should not live in poverty, and they should have access to high-quality learning and education to put them on a fast track to success. Let’s build our children up, educate them and allow them to flourish. Is that not the American Dream?
To read James J. Heckman’s full New York Times Opinionator piece, click here:
To read Mary E. O’Leary’s full New Haven Register article, click here:
*O’Leary, Mary E. “More Kids Living in Poverty.” The New Haven Register 20 Sept. 2013: 1. Print.