Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 18, 2013

Another View: State leads on early childhood education

Investment in early education is gaining favor nationwide, and we can be proud to live in a state that today is on the leading edge of that trend.

We have some differences with Gov. Rick Snyder and the GOP-led Legislature on education policy, but both deserve high praise for the decision to include an additional $65 million to expand early-childhood education.

The increase in money for the Great Start Readiness Program will allow at least 16,000 more 4-year-olds to attend publicly-funded preschool.

It is the biggest such increase in the nation and, if the governor has his way, will be followed by another $65 million increase in the following fiscal year.

This allocation represents a 60 percent bump over current funding and will help pay the full cost of preschool for disadvantaged kids whose families make up to 250 percent of the poverty line. The income cutoff is roughly $39,000 for a parent with one child, $59,000 for a family of four.

Only a few states make pre-K available to all 4-year-olds, putting Michigan among the most progressive states.

Unlike much in this year’s budget plan, the expansion to pre-K funding has bipartisan support — and for good reason.

Research tells us that children who attend preschool are 20 percent more likely to graduate high school. Twenty-three percent of kids who attended preschool graduated from a four-year college, compared with just 6 percent of those who didn’t attend preschool.

Moreover, children who attended preschool are less likely to get in trouble with the law and less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. In adulthood, they earn on average 50 percent more than children who did not attend preschool.

In other words, preschool is a sound investment of public resources. We applaud the governor and lawmakers for their leadership on this issue, and we look forward to continuing investments in early childhood education.

Battle Creek Enquirer

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