Friday, January 29, 2010

Now or Later

The old saying goes that it takes money to make money. The new saying, at least in Michigan, is that it takes money to save money. A study there found that the state's preschool programs are saving the state about $1 billion a year. The savings comes from reduced costs in having children repeat grades, the juvenile justice and corrections system, substance abuse programs, and more. That's to say nothing of the fact that children who don't get sidetracked into drugs and crime are also more likely to earn a productive income.

This is actually pretty obvious if you think about it. As my dad always used to say, "you can pay now or you can pay later." He was usually referring to homework time, but it applies. We can pay now and get kids off to a good start or we could pay later when we have to correct the behaviors that have gotten started. As the YMCA used to say, "it's easier to build boys than mend men." That one's pretty catchy.

The irony is that pre-k programs are perpetually on the chopping block. Paul Anton, who oversaw the study under discussion said, "Cutting a dollar in early childhood education is not going to save money, it will cost you in the future."

Let's hope his voice gets heard.

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