Pre-K Education is a Long-Term Winner
By Austan Goolsbee
Most of us watching the looming budget showdown do so with a sense of dread. The last one left congressional approval at 9%, the president’s popularity at a new low, and consumer confidence at levels not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. The trouble, of course, is finding common ground on a 10-year budget framework or even on a six-week punt. Hopefully, they will find common ground.
If we are committed to evidence, though, there’s one area where we ought to be able to agree: early-childhood education. Investments in pre-kindergarten education have among the highest payoffs of any government policy, and whatever budget agreement emerges should restore the country’s long-standing commitment to early education.
The budget-sequester cuts agreed to in 2011, under the guise of saving money, have knocked as many as 70,000 kids out of such programs. How myopic. It doesn’t save money beyond the narrowest definition of the immediate term. Incarceration, special education, teen pregnancy, low earnings—avoiding these outcomes will actually save money, and early education helps achieve that.