Push For Universal Preschool

It might not look like reading, writing, and arithmetic, but preschoolers at Eastminster Child Development Center are learning nonetheless.

"Preschool gives the children a jump start," says Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, (D) Salem.

That's why she and Rep. Rebekah Warren, (D) Ann Arbor, are pushing for universal preschool in Michigan.

"It's important to get those little brains working," Smith says. "Four years is within that range of zero to five, when we get the best bang for our buck with the kids' brains."

Putting every four-year-old through preschool would cost a pretty penny. The state would fund it, in part, through an income tax increase. Costing taxpayers more now, says Warren, but saving them more in the long run.

"We know from 20 years of research, that every dollar that we invest in early childhood education saves us at a minimum $7 on the back end, in costs for remedial education, social services, juvenile justice, corrections," Warren explains. "So that early focus on early childhood education really just means we're saving money, we're investing in the future."

Educators believe preschool is so important because the skills kids learn here give them a head-start in kindergarten.

"We're doing everything from numbers and letters to manners and second language," says Brett Boden, lead preschool teacher at Eastminster.

"Every kid needs something like this before they start grade school," he says, so kids are properly prepared to hit the books.

"We've got to have our kids entering school ready to learn," echoes Warren. "So that they can go on and get that post-secondary education we know is critical for the jobs of tomorrow."


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