Could investments in early childhood education save Missouri millions?

Feb 4, 2013

In his State of the State Address, Gov. Jay Nixon outlined his proposal to boost funding for early childhood education by $17 million, saying, “early childhood education is a smart investment, with a big return.”

How much of a return could we be talking about?

The often cited High/Scope Perry Preschool Study could answer this precise question. Started in 1962, the study tried to examine the lasting effects of a preschool education. In the experiment, 123 at-risk children in Ypsilanti, MI. were randomly split into two groups: one group went to preschool, and the other didn’t. Those students were then tracked to see how they’d develop. Over the years, researchers found that those who had attended preschool:

— were more likely to own a home

— were less likely to rely on welfare

— had lower rates of crime

After around 40 years, the study estimated that preschool education “yielded public benefits of $105,324 per participant.” In order words, even with inflation factored out, for every dollar invested in preschool researchers estimated a return of a little over $7.

The business community may be taking note. Both the Columbia and Missouri Chambers of Commerce support efforts that would fund early childhood development programs.

KBIA will be continuing this conversation about early childhood education funding on Intersection, today at 2:00. Join the chat by clicking here