Gov. Jerry Brown missed the boat with his 2014-15 budget proposal. I commend the governor for spending new dollars on schools, yet he makes no mention of a universal preschool for California’s 4-year-olds.
Preschool is a sound investment. The benefits of investing in preschool far outweigh the costs to California taxpayers. Research shows preschool participants are: less likely to be retained in school, more likely to earn more money, and less likely to break laws. Furthermore, school retention rates and high school graduation rates are higher among children who participate in preschool, bringing us one step further to closing the achievement gap.
Invest now, or pay later? California’s criminal population has grown significantly over the past 30 years. The jail population has increased by 170 percent, the prison population by more than 570 percent, and the parole population by more than 700 percent. Furthermore, California is ranked second in per capita spending on corrections and second in average annual mean wages for jailers and correctional officers. Yet, we remain 49th out of 50 states on per pupil spending in K-12 education. Let’s take a chance on our 4-year-olds and see whether they can turn California around. What have we got to lose?