During election season, we are privileged to use an important tool with the power to benefit our children: The vote.
On November 6th, Memphians will vote on Presidential and local candidates as well as proposed laws that affect how children are educated and when publically-funded education should begin. There is much to consider so going into the voting booth with some data helps.
Big things start when children are little. A child’s brain is undergoing incredible growth in the early years, more than doubling in size the first year and reaching 80 percent of adult brain size by age 3. During this period of explosive growth, children are sponge-like in their ability to absorb new information. The benefits of being involved in a structured school setting before the age of 5 are huge.
The Urban Child Institute’s recent publication, Pre-K Matters: Exploring the Impact of Pre-Kindergarten on Children and Their Communities, offers some eye-opening numbers that clearly show the many benefits kids have received from a handful of national programs.
An investment in early education is a smart move, according to Pre-K Matters. Research shows that communities that invest in pre-kindergarten programs experience major returns on their investment, returns that have a community-wide reach. One dollar spent on pre-K programs can translate into more than five dollars of economic benefit to our community as a whole. Pre-K is perhaps the very best investment we can make, not only the children in these pre-K classroom, but for society as a whole.
In Tennessee, a study by researchers at Vanderbilt University revealed the significant gains children make who have access to pre-K education in Tennessee. In one year, pre-K children showed a 98 percent greater gain in literacy skills, a 145 percent gain in vocabulary, and a 109 percent gain in comprehension than children who did not attend pre-K.
The future is ours to shape. Memphis is rich in human potential, a potent fuel for driving the economic engine of a community. Crafting a smart plan that benefits our people, our government, and our economy is in everyone’s best interest.