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Nancy Folbre: Preschool Economics - NYTimes.com


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Even a 4-year-old can understand the case for early-childhood education. It’s fun, you learn things, you make it easier for Mom and Dad to earn a decent living, and when you grow up you will be better able to earn a decent living yourself. At that point, you will start paying taxes that return the favor, helping finance the retirement and health care of the generation that invested in your education. Today’s Economist

Perspectives from expert contributors.

President Obama’s proposal to help states develop and expand high-quality early-education programs has won verbal support from across the political spectrum, including David Brooks. More tangible evidence of political viability comes from Oklahoma and Georgia, two traditionally red states that now provide universal voluntary preschool for 4-year-olds.

Still, conservative opposition remains fierce. The loudest complaint is that public programs have not been shown to be cost-effective. But a wealth of research by highly respected economists shows that well-designed, high-quality early-childhood education programs offer a positive payback. At National Public Radio you can listen to the University of Chicago economist James Heckman reiterate this point – as he has been doing for many years.

So even the most conservative folks are in favor of preschool.

They just don't want a public option.

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