When my daughter started preschool I managed to accidentally join the executive at the school. It’s a co-op so all the parents are involved in different ways, and we all had duty days when we spend the afternoon at the school helping the teachers.

As it turns out being on the executive and doing duty days at school were a truly awesome experience. I got to know other parents, I got to know the teachers really well, and I got to have conversations with them about the school and their training and curriculums and new things they’re learning about early childhood education.

As far back as high school I remember learning how important early childhood education could be. Taking care of young children can set them up for life. Studies have shown the kids who attend preschool or some other form of early childhood education are more likely to finish high school, less likely to be involved in crime, they have better social skills, they have more ability to focus, the list goes on and on. The fact is that the more funding you put into early childhood programs the less you’ll have to spend on an array of other things as these children age and the better off society will be.

So why don’t we focus on early childhood development?

This is an election year, and day care is part of the conversation. But a national day care isn’t the whole solution. We are failing so many kids.

There is a major problem with school attendance in the north, and I heard it put very simply recently while I was attending Progress Summit – the schools are in disrepair, the supplies are second rate.

If we don’t invest in those things to demonstrate how important education is, then why would any of those kids consider it important?

A good start in school can change everything about a person’s life. Everything. Starting at the beginning can change everything about our country. That’s the kind of long term thinking we need to see this election year.

Further reading: 

This American Life: Three Miles 

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