The Importance and Need for Early Education (by Guest Blogger Kristin Saito)

KristinSummer2012Note: Kristin is a returning Capstone student who will be writing a weekly post during winter term.  Her task?  To add to the conversation on current education issues in Oregon while connecting to our learning theme for each week.  Thank you, Kristin!

Early education has become a matter of concern in the forefront of recent Oregon politics. Governor Kitzhaber has implemented a new plan that attempts to give Oregon’s children more opportunities for a better and early education. The Governor’s Office announced that it has received a $20 million grant, as part of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge run by the U.S. departments of Education and Health and Human Services, to improve training for preschool teachers and to measure the effectiveness of programs that are supposed to prepare children for kindergarten (http://www.opb.org/news/article/feds-give-oregon-20m-for-early-childhood-education/). Senator Jeff Merkley suggests that investing in preschool programs, such as Head Start, can help reduce crime. Early education should be used as a crime deterrent and should be available to all children. At-risk children who do not participate in early education programs are five times more likely to be chronic offenders by age 27. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report detailing how Oregon spends $976 million on corrections while only spending a small fraction of that on early education (http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2012/10/sen_jeff_merckley_and_local_law.html).

All children should be able to receive an early education regardless of their socioeconomic status. Those who do not have an early education, and are “at-risk,” are five times more likely to be a chronic offender by age 27. That is a statistic that should be taken into serious consideration, and seems to be right now in local Oregon politics. Early education is a very reasonable solution that could reduce the crime in our communities and one that our children deserve. The community site that I am partnered with is doing a good job of keeping at-risk students off the streets during the time of day they are most likely to be injured in a crime, commit a crime, or become pregnant. If our children need an early education to prepare them adequately for kindergarten today, which will ultimately keep them out of prison tomorrow, isn’t it our job to make sure that all our children receive an early education? Is not the need for an early education prevalent in our society today? Are we willing to continue to spend more money on corrections that we are on education? These are questions we all should be asking ourselves when considering what is important for the children of Oregon and their future.

Tags: early education, local law, crime prevention/reduction

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