Can the government build a better generation ? ( part 6 )

When we say that we have a budget crisis, it's not a shortage of money that we're talking about. There's plenty of money. This is lobbying power, which assures that our political system continues to try to keep the spending patterns unchanged. The economics of it just doesn't hold up. You want to make sure you have sustainable economic growth, invest in your kids. Everyone's saying, earlier, the better. It's more efficient. If you wait, it's going to cost you a lot more money, and you're going to fail a lot more ( raising children).

We are not producing the workforce we need. We are producing a large, large number of people who are going to be unable to compete effectively on a global basis. And we create a two-tiered society, so we say to those kids "Sorry, we're not going to help," even though we know how to help and we can do it in an effective way. We know it has a great return on investment. We know it helps children's life-long learning. Why do we not do it? It's a question I ask myself daily.

Despite everything we know, most states still confront fiscal challenges the old fashioned way - offering subsidies to business while cutting back on social services including child development. When Utah Republican State Senator Aaron Osmond was appointed to the state's education committee, what he found sent him in a different direction. Senator Osmond, “Our special education growth is outpacing our normal student growth. We're spending a lot of money on special education without the outcomes that we really want ( raising children).”

Nationwide, special education is provided for children with developmental delays. In Utah, the costs were spiraling. When Senator Osmond went looking for solutions, one school district stood out. Granite District in Salt Lake City is large and many of its families live in extreme poverty. The district decided to invest in high quality early education, like Perry Preschool had  years earlier.

Children coming from at-risk family situations, often look like children who have disability, and yet what they really have is a lack of opportunity. Many of these kids come from homes where English is not spoken and in the past, would have been steered to special education. Osmond, “What impressed me most about their preschool program, was how engaged these young children were in the educational process. These teachers knew exactly what was going on, the kids knew what was going on, and they were participating in the process ( raising children). ”

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