I'm studying for the comprehensive exam I have to take to earn my masters degree and I started googling around to fact-check some of the information I am studying. One article I read last summer mentioned the High Scope Perry Project from the mid 1960s. I wanted to have more exact dates than "the 1960s" so I looked it up.
The article I read said good things about it- what I have found on the Internet says even better things. The project (which took place between 1962 and 1967) studied two groups of African-American 3 and 4 year olds from low-income families. One group attended a comprehensive preschool program that included education, health, and family support. The other group did not. The researchers have tracked the participants over their life times- the most recent study done when the participants reached the age of 40. The results (to me) are astounding. At age 5 the students who participated in the preschool program had a higher IQ than those who did not. At 14 they were far more likely to have reached basic achievements, at 15 they were far more likely to turn in their homework. At 40 they were 20% more likely to earn 20k a year, and had less arrests than those who did not attend preschool.
The website links to a juvenile justice report where the courts look at this study as an answer to juvenile crimes.
A 1993 study states that the program saved the taxpayers $88,433 per participant. This savings came from a reduced amount of students in the special education program, higher taxes paid by the participants because they had higher earnings, savings in welfare assistance, and savings in the juvenile and general courts. The original cost per participant was $12,356 over the 2 years. The study states this provided the tax payers with a return of $7.16 on the dollar.
But I can't read this and feel joy. This study has been in the works for YEARS now. And where are we? Most of the kindergarten students who will walk in my door on August 5th will not have any preschool experience. We know it works, we know how to help these children and save money, but we've done nothing about it.
This is not the only study out there that shows early interventions save the tax payers money and increase the outcomes of student achievement. The Carolina Abecedarian Project is another study which found that early intervention saved $100,00 per child through less money spent on special education, welfare, and juvenile crime. This study was written up in 1994.
And there are others. We KNOW early intervention works. We KNOW it not only saves money in the long run, but it helps children come out of poverty, reduces the dependency on welfare, and improves academic growth. In fact, it probably does more to close the achievement gap and leave no child behind than any assessment measured curriculum we teach in elementary schools.
So WHY will the students that come to my school on August 5th not have any preschool experience?
I personally blame the delayed gratification. Any politician who puts an early intervention program in place will be long out of office by the time we see the savings. Even a young governor who is hoping to one day run for president isn't going to jump at starting a full scale early intervention program. Right when he's ready to run for higher office the tax payers will be upset about the money spent on preschool for the poor because no one will have seen the results yet. And how do you convince a politician to spend money now so that years and years down the line we'll see the results?
now that I'm all good and angry I will go back to studying....