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These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Invest in Early Education Now, Spend Less on Prison Later

Click on the entry title to get a wonderful report from the state of Washington. This is what I mean by "community outcomes:" the demonstrated value of a program.

A quote of note: "At-risk children randomly excluded from the Perry Preschool Program were 85% more likely to have been sentenced to prison or jail by age 40."

Another: "Program participants were 47 percent more likely to attend a 4-year college than those left out of the program. Kids who were left out of the program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime before their 18th birthday. By the time they were 24, the high-risk individuals who had not participated in the program were 24 percent more likely to have been incarcerated than the participants. When the 100,000 participants have all turned 18, the Child-Parent Centers will have prevented an estimated 33,000 crimes in that city."

I hope it goes without saying (not that I intent to let it stay that way) that an investment in public libraries is ALSO an investment in early literacy, and has a similar payoff in communities that are safer, and do a better job of growing productive citizens.

For fiscal and social conservatives out there: which approach is CHEAPER? Teach them, or lock them up? Because those are the choices.

Note: as of 10/20, the link doesn't work again. But try this, which is about Colorado.

Also, I wrote a column about this recently, with more Colorado information.

4 comments:

Luna et Soleil said...

Education is the most important thing. To deny education to allow unfortunate things to occur. Great post.

Praveen said...

Hey Jamie, the link doesn't work for me.

It's not just "spend less on prison later", it is "Reap the benefits soon". Imagine what a well educated, well informed society might do for the nation. For generations to come.

Jamie said...

Sorry, I neglected to the add the "http://" at the beginning of the link. Should work now -- I just tested it.

And good point, Praveen.

Chris said...

Here is a link to the report at the original site:

http://www.fightcrime.org/state/2009/reports/invest-early-education-now-spend-less-prisons-later-washington-2009-brief