The arguments for early childhood education as it benefits participants are solid.  Studies show that preschool helps kids perform better in school and increases their chances of getting a better job in the future. But in this TED Talk, economist Timothy Bartik argues that the economic benefits of a preschool education can be felt beyond the child enrolled - spilling out into the whole community to create better jobs and higher earnings for everyone.  The author of Investing in Kids, Timothy Bartik studies state and local economies -- and analyzes the benefits of preschool as an economic development program.

It's a bottom line that Bartik backs up with figures.  And it's these figures, Bartik argues that should compel state-wide investment in early childhood education.

According to Bartik, preschool is an investment that pays off for a broad range of income levels, increasing a low-income child's earnings by 10 percent and a middle income child's earnings by 5 percent.  But, preschool does more than simply increase the earnings of the participant.  Bartik argues that for every dollar a state invests in preschool, the per capita earnings for that state will increase by $2.78.  That's for everyone in the state - not just the kids who went to preschool.  So even if you don't have kids, you will benefit when other people's children go to preschool.  And that doesn't account for the other benefits that a society might gain from a better educated workforce - less crime, fewer tax dollars spent on remediation, etc.  Why the increase in earnings?  Bartik argues that when you invest in early childhood education, it develops the skills of your workforce and in turn, the higher quality workforce will be a key driver in promoting jobs in the community.

Take a look:

Her certainly makes some interesting points.  As a parent, I've never had a problem investing tax dollars in schools.  But I also never realized just how much better schools can improve a community.  Even for citizens who don't have children. 

But he also leaves us with an interesting point that defines the general conundrum with American politics.  It's so short-sighted that we never get beyond programs that have immediate benefits.  Why would a politician promote investment in early childhood education when its benefits won't be felt until after she is out of office?  Are we as Americans willing to invest in something now that will improve our community - but not for 15 to 20 years?

What do you think?

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