Improving the Early Education System in Massachusetts
Quality early care and education can help improve public safety and bolster national security
As members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and Mission: Readiness, respectively, we’ve long advocated for investments in evidence-based, high-quality early childhood education programs. These programs can help put young people on a path toward success, helping them access better careers and lives as they grow, as well as improving long-term national security and public safety. The research case for these positive outcomes for kids has only grown stronger over the years.
In fact, a recent landmark study from the MIT Department of Economics has underscored the benefits that high-quality pre-K can impart. The study found that attending a Boston public preschool led to a variety of positive, long-term outcomes, including better high-school graduation rates, greater likelihood of enrolling in college, and a substantial, positive impact on student behavior.
Of note is that this was a randomized, long-term study, which means that the research is of higher value. The effects also didn’t differ by race or income, reflecting the potential of high-quality pre-K to reach all children.
These results are the latest—and strongest—evidence in favor of the power of pre-K to improve kids’ lives long-term. They’re also consistent with other findings, including a recent research report from Council for a Strong America that we both helped release. That report highlighted that high-quality pre-K also has positive implications for public safety and national security.
Pre-K helps children go to school and thrive, and the 60 percent of kids who don’t attend pre-K are more likely to act out—or drop out. They are also more likely to get involved in the criminal justice system, or to be unable to meet the criteria for military eligibility if they choose that career path.
And this news comes at a perfect time: a moment when investments in early childhood programs have unprecedented momentum. We have the opportunity to address a longstanding need that will help build the future that Massachusetts and our nation must have.
In order for our state, our national security, and our public safety to be as strong as possible, we must make sure that the youngest Bay Staters have the high-quality care and education they need to have the best opportunity to achieve in school and life, access to high-quality pre-K programs like Boston’s is a critical step in making sure every child has that opportunity to meet his or her potential.
Brigadier General (Ret.) Jack Hammond, U.S. Army (Member, Mission: Readiness) Joseph D. Early, Jr. (Worcester County District Attorney; member, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids)