Editorial: Early childhood programs draw misguided criticism
BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
3/05/13 at 7:52 AM
Oklahoma for some years now has won national acclaim for its effective and extensive early childhood offerings. But for some reason, even our own leaders aren't willing to give credit where credit is due.
Early childhood programs aren't a panacea for what ails a poverty-stricken area, but there is strong outcomes-based evidence that they can lift a child out of poverty and onto a productive path in adult life.
Who wouldn't want to expand an educational system that provides that?
President Barack Obama complimented Oklahoma's early childhood initiatives during his State of the Union address, causing the eyes of the nation to turn to our activities on this front. Obama is calling for more federal funding to states for the purpose of developing good early learning programs.
Tulsa has been among pioneering communities setting up Educare centers, a nationally recognized early childhood program that addresses multiple issues facing family participants.
Opponents of the president, not surprisingly, were quick to pounce on a recent report that showed developmental gains in preschool years for one well-known program, Head Start, largely dissipated by the end of third grade.
Both Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla., issued statements downplaying the effectiveness of such preschool programs.
But they ignored other data, dating back to the 1960s and '70s, that show high-quality programs lead to better graduation rates, higher-paying jobs, less involvement with crime and fewer welfare recipients.
Jan Figart, associate director of the community Service Council of Tulsa, put it this way: "The long-term success of high quality child care may fade in reading by third grade, but it stands up to the test of time with a child more likely to be a fully functioning adult."
Our hope is that one or two measures quantified by third-grade tests don't interrupt the progress made on this front, especially here in Oklahoma.
Original Print Headline: Proven