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Study: 'Teach your Children Well,' and Early, for Big Gains Down the Road

July 13, 2007

Invest early on and you'll be glad you did. That basic advice holds true for pre-kindergarten education in New Mexico, according to new data out from the Economic Policy Institute this week. It's part of a study from well-known economist Robert Lynch that links dollars spent on early childhood education to bigger social savings down the road, including lower crime rates and higher average incomes. According to researcher Gerry Bradley with New Mexico Voices for Children, an annual investment of $200 million by the state would pay for itself after eight years.

“You know, I know, that $200 million is not a small investment. It's certainly doable and the pay-offs are more clear than in many other kinds of state government expenditures.”

According to the report, implementing a pre-k program now could lead to a $1 billion in reduced crime costs over the next four decades and $2.2 billion in increased wages. It also says that children who receive early education are less likely to repeat a grade, require special education, or receive child welfare services.

The study looked at groups of children who had pre-kindergarten education and groups that didn't. It tracked them into their adult lives to find that early education had lasting effects well beyond graduation day.

"They also have been able to track these children into the workforce and show that they have higher employment and earnings and better health outcomes."

The study is available at www.epi.org/content.cfm/book_enriching. The fact sheet for New Mexico is at www.epi.org/books/enriching/states/nm.pdf.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - NM