The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

One sure way to improve public education

Nov 22, 2004

A new report was issued on a pre-school program in the Ypsilanti Michigan public schools. The program, started in 1962, gave early education to three and four-year old children from poor neighborhoods. Researchers have been following what has happened to the first class of these pre-schoolers ever since.

Some highlights of their latest report: participants in this pre-school program were much more likely to graduate from high school than other students who did not participate in the program; today, the program participants are more likely to have jobs; they have significantly higher incomes. They are significantly less likely to have a history of drug-related crime.

What explains this? Children in the program were similar in every way to the other children – except for being in the program.

But the pre-school program participants benefitted from early education that was adequately funded. The program included at least 2½ hours of classes, Monday through Friday, with one teacher for every eight students. The teachers, who received normal public-school teacher salaries, had full teaching credentials. There were supplies and books for every child.

Was this program very expensive?

Compare the costs. An average of $15,166 was spent to finance each child's two-year participation in the program. But the researchers estimate that, so far, the economic return from higher tax revenues, lower need for welfare support and less criminal activity has averaged $258,888 per child. This is a return of about $17 for every one dollar invested!

Studies of similar programs have shown the same thing. And yet, politicians who could save public funds by investing in early education turn a blind eye to such studies.

Apparently the wealthy bourgeoisie who own this society and control the two parties want to keep it rigidly divided into classes – one with a decent education and one with a lousy education.