To the editor: Reading about Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom’s nearly $2 billion commitment to early childhood education programs was the best way to start 2019. An investment where we know it does the most good — in our youngest children — is simply the best investment we can make for our future.
Children growing up in poverty without access to early childhood education programs start kindergarten at a significant disadvantage and may never catch up to their more affluent peers. According to Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, more than 1 million new neural connections are formed in a baby’s brain during their first years of life. A child’s brain is 90% developed by age 5. That’s why starting early is key.
High-quality early childhood education programs work, and they help save taxpayer money in the long run. In fact, Nobel-Prize winning economist James Heckman shows the annual rate of return on investments can be 13% per child due to improved outcomes in education, health, sociability and economic productivity.
I encourage California’s Legislature to support this element of the state budget proposal. Every child in California deserves the best chance for a bright future.
Mark K. Shriver, Bethesda, Md.
The writer is senior vice president for U.S. programs and advocacy at Save the Children.