As Congress considers the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act, local leaders are encouraging a shift from the traditional kindergarten through 12th grade education to a preschool through 12th grade track.
A report released today found that high-quality preschool programs for all children would help reduce crime and save millions of dollars for Bay Area school districts.
The report, released by a network of law enforcement officials and survivors of violence called Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, found children who attend preschool are less likely to need special education services later and are less likely to commit crimes, state and local leaders said at a news conference at the Cambridge Child Development Center in Concord.
According to the report, research has shown that high-quality preschool could result in long-term cost savings of as much as $16 for every $1 spent.
In the short term, providing high-quality preschool for all children in California could reduce the state's public education costs by as much as 10 percent by reducing the number of children who require special education services. Children who go to preschool are also less likely to need to repeat grades and are more likely to graduate from high school.
According to the report, more than $1.5 billion is spent each year on special education services in the Bay Area.
The report found that if state and federal governments invested $117 million to provide preschool programs for all Bay Area children, the cost of special education services could be reduced by about $150 million.
It further estimates that providing preschool for all children statewide could result in overall savings of $300 million annually in kindergarten through 12th grade education.
Studies have also found that children who do not attend preschool are more likely to commit violent crimes than peers with similar socio-economics backgrounds who did attend preschool.
A study of a federally funded early intervention program in Chicago called the Child-Parent Centers, which provide educational services to economically disadvantaged children and their parents, compared children in the program to similar children who did not attend the program.
The study found that children who were not in the program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18 than children who did attend the program.
Children not participating in the program were also 24 percent more likely to be incarcerated as young adults than children who had attended the program.
A separate study released in 2005 found that children who did not attend preschool were five times more likely become chronic offenders by age 27 than similar peers who did go to preschool.
The children who went to preschool were also 43 percent less likely to need special education services later, according to the study, which compared children attending the Perry Preschool Program in Ypsilanti, Mich., to similar peers who did not attend the program.
During the news conference today, Concord police Chief and Contra Costa County Sheriff-Elect David Livingston joined Pleasant Hill police Chief Pete Dunbar, Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, and Barrie Becker, state director of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California, to call on state and federal lawmakers to invest in high-quality preschool for all children.
Bay City News