SPEAKER

 
Speaker Summary
 
President Bryant Powell introduced our guest speaker, Bret Haupt, Early Childhood Education Community Outreach Coordinator for First Things First, Pinal County. The sole purpose of First Things First is to support children ages 0-5.
 
90% of a child’s brain is formed before age 5; 80% before age 3. The things that we do for children in those early years can help them in school, as well as aid in the development of self-esteem, motivation, control, and focus.
 
James Heckman, Nobel laureate in economics, developed an equation showing that if you invest in early childhood education, develop the cognitive and social skills in children from birth to age 5, and sustain that development with effective education through adulthood, then you gain more capable, productive, and valuable members of society. The initial cost doesn’t have an immediate payback, though. Results may not be seen for 10-15 years into the life of the child.
 
The Perry Preschool project is one of three major studies that clearly shows the benefit of early childhood education. Started in 1962, the Perry Preschool Program engaged parents as well as kids in an at-risk low-income neighborhood in Michigan. Collected data from this longitudinal study of 123 children showed that students who had been through preschool had a clear advantage as they entered kindergarten over their peers who had not been in preschool; however, ten years later (age 15), their IQ scores had regressed back to the mean. The real return did not show itself until many years later.
 
Age 27
  • Graduation rate for the adults who had attended preschool was 66%, as compared to 45% for those who had not attended.
  • 57% of the adults who had attended preschool had children out of wedlock; as compared to 83% for those who had not attended.
  • The teen pregnancy rate for those who had attended preschool was 0.6%; as compared to 1.2% for those who had not.
 
Age 40
  • 28% of the adults who had attended preschool had spent some time in jail or prison by age 40; as compared to 52% of those who had not attended preschool.
  • 32% of the adults who had attended preschool had committed a violent crime by age 40; as compared to 48% of those who had not attended preschool.
  • The median monthly income of those who had attended preschool was $1,800; as compared to $1,300 for those who had not.
  • 59% of those who had attended preschool had collected some form of government assistance such as welfare or food stamps; as compared to 80% of those who had not attended preschool.
 
The study showed that many skills that seemingly can’t be taught – motivation, self-esteem, confidence, self-regulation, and self-control – were gained in those early years. The biggest gains in the brain’s executive functioning come between ages 3 and 5 years, nurtured with high quality and consistent interaction, support, love, care, and the ability to make mistakes without being “struck down.”
 
Heckman determined:
Every $1 spent for early childhood education will pay back $16 over the life of the child.
  • $11 in reduced crime related cost
  • $1.50 in decreased government spending
  • $3.50 in increased earning
 
If Arizona could raise the graduation rate in quality preschools by 5%, we would see a projected $131 million annual savings from crime related expenditures. And if we could take all the high school dropouts from one year and convert them to graduates, Arizona households would have a collective $7.2 billion in additional accumulated wealth over the lifetime of those students.
 
The Headstart preschool program currently covers 2-5% of the preschool population in Arizona. A 2006 voter initiative established First Things First to focus on childhood education, but estimates put the state’s best reach at about 15-20% of young children. Every parent and caregiver, however, has the ability to give their child a great early childhood experience and to do the same things that the high quality preschools do, because more important than how or what we teach our children, is for parents to simply pay attention to their children.