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Why Newsom's $2-billion pledge to early childhood education will be money well spent

Why Newsom's $2-billion pledge to early childhood education will be money well spent
Gavin Newsom speaks at an election-night party in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2018. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

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.

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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.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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