The Seattle Times is right to recognize the value of high-quality preschool instruction based on models tested elsewhere in the nation [“In November, make the right choice for universal pre-K in Seattle,” Opinion, July 30].
Rice University research by Betty Hart and Todd Risley found that, by age three, children born into economically disadvantaged families hear, on average, 30 million fewer words than their peers growing up in more affluent homes.
Unaddressed, this word gap — and related social and emotional skill deficits — become what is known as the achievement gap, whereby children from low-income families begin school at a disadvantage and fail to catch up through K-12 education.
A study by the National Institute for Early Education over several years found that high-quality preschool in a state Supreme Court-mandated initiative in New Jersey closed about half of the achievement gap over two years.
As The Times’ editorial noted, investment in early, effective education can provide an academic rocket boost, and ultimately reduce poverty and crime while raising graduation rates.
This makes preschool too important to be reduced to a jobs program.
Jack McCarthy, president and chief executive at AppleTree Institute for Education Innovation, Washington, D.C.