Can the government build a better generation ? ( part 7 )

I always tell our staff that I know that we're right on target and the kids are right there with you, when they're kind of coming up out of their seats and they're leaning forward and want to get to the teacher. Van Gorder, “We know we've got them engaged in an activity, and when you're engaged, you're learning.” The children were given standardized tests at the start of preschool and their

progress has been carefully calculated.  A number of children ━ a third of all tested ━ scored so low they would likely need special education when entering elementary school. But after two years in Granite's high quality early education program, only a few of those  students were assigned to special ed. Jason, Rey, Diego and Maria were among the low-scoring students. They are in fifth grade now, and have been testing as well in math and language arts as the kids in high-income schools
( raising children)

Van Gorder, “All of these four children were in a range where they were potentially eligible for special education at that moment... My mom wanted to move me to another school, but I'm like, ‘No, please - please, no!’ We didn't put them in special ed.”  We found that over four years the state alone saved a big sum of money, and if you include the federal savings, that was an additional sum. Osmond, “We have an opportunity to mainstream these students and save significant dollars down the road. And there is the statistical historical evidence that it will work.” In the face of ongoing opposition, Senator Osmond continues to push forward two bills, one to start more pilot preschools, the other to keep them all sustainable. Osmond, “The concept of sustainable financing is allocating budget right now as a set-aside to be able to reinvest again in the future based on future savings that you hope that you will realize, thus creating kind of cyclical nature that there is always funding available for this particular program ( raising children) .”

The reality is, though, that we still need to prove to the legislature and to many groups in the state that that investment is worth it. It seems like we do a lot of this early intervention, but it seems to wash out by the time students get in the seventh or eighth grade. I'd like to find out why that's the case. We're not seeing the washouts. Not only are they not washing out, they're still at the top of their class. They left preschool and entered kindergarten at the top, and they are maintaining at the top. And if they're maintaining at the top, Granite district's preschool program is reversing a seemingly intractable national trend, where the achievement gap between high-income and low-income children has widened ( raising children).

A two-point gap between low-income and high-income schools in the Granite School District in language arts was reduced for the preschoolers to a five-point gap. It's so compelling you cannot avoid having the conversation "Why not invest early?" High quality child-care and preschool is just one piece of the solution. Early childcare education is not a panacea. You have to have clean, safe neighborhoods, good food, good communities, you have a support system around us all. Economists are clear about the equation our system is paying for failure, rather than investing in success. Not just one study, there are actually four independent longitudinal studies on early ed, all getting very, very high annual rates of return. The question is, What will we do about it? How much are we willing to invest for the long term? When are we going to get crazy about our kids? We've invested in many things that help make this country as great as it is. But we have not shown that same level investment in our youngest citizens. And I think, if we do, we can truly make this country live up to its marvelous promise ( raising children).

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