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Universal Pre-K: Is It Worth the Investment?


The Kirwan Commission on education reform in Maryland has recommended a re-ordering of our educational priorities. One of the central tenets of the Commission’s approach is to expand early pre-school for three and four year olds.

The data on pre-k might surprise you. A Brookings Institution studyargues that there is little correlation between pre-k and academic achievement in elementary school. But scholars have determined that kids in pre-school are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. And a report by MD Family Network calculates the loss to businesses at nearly two and half billion dollars for parents with kids under the age of five, for time lost at work due to inadequate child care.

Is universal pre-k worth the investment? How much does it really prepare kids for success down the line?  And if the state doesn’t make pre-k programs affordable and accessible to parents, does that decision come with an economic cost? 

Today, a panel of early education experts joins Tom for a closer look at the costs and benefits of pre-k.

Credit photos courtesy Suzanne Bouffard; Rasheed Malik; Erica Greenberg.
Early education policy experts Suzanne Bouffard, Rasheed Malik, and Erica Greenberg.

Rasheed Malik is a senior policy analyst for Early Childhood Policy at the Center for American Progress; Erica Greenbergis a senior research associate in the Center on Education Data and Policy at the Urban Institute.  They both join us from the studios of NPR in Washington, DC.  Suzanne Bouffard is the author of The Most Important Year: Pre-Kindergarten and the Future of Our ChildrenShe speaks with us from the studios of Boston University public radio WBUR in Boston, Massachusetts.

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