Early Childhood Education Importance, 85% of Brain Develops Before 5

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Why Early Childhood Education is Paramount
Credit: The Rauch Foundation (click to enlarge)

There’s a reason for all the emphasis on early childhood education in public policy. Data compiled by the Rauch Foundation found that 85 percent of the brain is developed by the time a person is five years old. However, only 14 percent of money for public education is put into these early years.

It is not to say that the sole focus of public education should be on the first five years of a child’s growth, but there is not enough allocated. The achievement gap, disparities in performance between demographics, has profound influence on education policy. Lawmakers and educators work to close it, but taking on the achievement gap in late-elementary to high school could be a treatment of the symptom, not the cause.

Before an achievement gap takes place, there is a readiness gap. If a majority of brain growth takes place before a child begins K-12 education, it makes sense to emphasize the formative years.

Programs like Head Start have attempted to tackle the problem. Low-income families are given access to the service for their children leading up to the first year of formal education. It operates as a day care, health service, and form of preschool for eligible children.

Head Start has shown mixed results in effectiveness. In California, only 60 percent of eligible families take advantage of the service.

Socioeconomic factors have profound effects on cognitive development. The Ounce of Prevention Foundation states the following:

“Parents who are preoccupied with a daily struggle to ensure that their children have enough to eat and are safe from harm may not have the resources, information, or time they need to provide the stimulating experiences that foster optimal brain development.”

“Infants and children who are rarely spoken to, who are exposed to few toys, and who have little opportunity to explore and experiment with their environment may fail to fully develop the neural connections and pathways that facilitate later learning.”

President Obama’s call for the federal government to work closely with states has progressed. His latest budget, released yesterday, allocates $75 billion over the next decade to early childhood education initiatives. It is partially funded by new revenues coming from an increase in the tobacco tax.

Coming up with the funding to expand education services is tough in the midst of budget shrinkage. However, the Rauch Foundation finds that in New York, every dollar spent on early childhood education produces a $1.86 return on investment.

Check out previous discussion on IVN about early childhood education:
Head Start Slows Down After Emphasis on Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education Leads to More Women in the Workforce
The Current State of Early Childhood Education Programs
The State of Education: Obama’s Remarks That Reached the Classroom
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  1. Ruebn Would like to invite people to check out a watchdog website on the First 5 commissions - www.Flopped5.org It's document driven and paid for by no one but a few middle of the road dudes who wanted to shine a little more light on how tax dollars are misused. 30 forced exits and $300 million in admittedly misdirected funds - the taxpayer deserves to know the truth about Prop 10.
  2. Lanie Yes, who funded this research, the who and why is important. This kind of research I imagine, increases the anxiety in parents and teachers. By the way the brain continues to develop.......http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/plast.html
  3. Nathaniel M Just FYI, there's a typo in the second sentence, its Rauch Foundation. Interesting study though.. is there any information on who funds this foundation or the studies? I'm more inclined to believe gaps are caused by lack of loving and caring parents and destructive home environments for the vast majority of those who are underperforming, much less than the culprit being monetary influence between school districts (which is really what saying things like "demographics" and such mean).
  4. Michael Higham Thanks for pointing that out, Nathaniel! Corrections have been made. I completely agree with you on the cause of gaps in a student's school performance, but the point of putting more money into services for kids in the early years is so they'll have a much better environment to grow, at least for a while. Not sure what you mean in the second part of your reasoning, though.
  5. Nathaniel M No worries! And I meant simply that, at least in my area, the differences in the school district funding per child is extremely minimal, yet the gaps still exist along the most common "demographic" lines. We are talking a hundred or so dollars per student, between various districts, so overall, fairly equal funding, despite different economic areas in the districts (as in, the richer areas are funding extra for lower income areas, which I suppose is the 'love your neighbor' thing to do), yet it isn't solving the performance problems.. so just how much good does EXTRA funding do? I am afraid education in this country has been "politicized", and unfortunately there are a lot of people who will exploit that, and yell "for the children!" at any chance for more funding, even if it doesn't produce results, or even get spent on the students.
  6. Michael Higham It's definitely important that the extra money actually does something substantial. I may not have stated that in the article, because I understand I only covered an increase in funding as a pretty positive move. But I've mentioned before that results from Head Start are mixed, and those are results coming from the Department of Health and Human Services. It highlights the point you make about how extra funding doesn't always equate to positive results. I think a very good case to keep up with in the future is California. The state is likely to implement a funding formula that makes a pretty substantial shift to give districts with more disadvantaged students more money. The catch is that local school districts are going to have a lot more freedom with what they do with the money. Of course, they'll have to report to the state about their expenditures, but it'll be interesting to see how/if student performance or achievement gaps change. In a way, you can look at California as an experiment (not sure how comfortable I'd be looking at school funding and real student performance as an experiment, though). And if/when the funding forumla gets instated, it could cover the concerns you bring up (whether or not positive results are yielded). All of that does tie into how education has become politicized, though. In a sense, it could be a shame that it is politicized, but maybe it's bringing more attention to how education should be administered. But again, playing politics with youth development can be dangerous. It's a bit funny that you brought up the whole "think about the children!!" argument. I was just talking about that with a couple of friends and how the phrase/justification gets thrown around so much as a default emotional appeal. It's hard to read the sincerity when someone uses that argument.
  7. Nathaniel M Thanks for the responses, Ill have to keep an eye out for news on those programs. And I agree entirely about the sincerity of the "for the children!" argument. I immediately question their motives, since while our children are a great, and perhaps our greatest "asset" (probably politically incorrect to call them that now days /eyeroll), we also learn more each day of how a person is most impressionable when they are very young. To me, logic says this is why politicizing education in my mind is an extremely bad thing. People like to claim slippery slopes are not valid, but we could very easily slip into a system where children are fairly effectively "educated" to view not only political issues, but the world, religions, ethnicities and decisions that will shape their lives, in a very skewed and politically guided way.. Many nations in the Eastern European bloc have had this problem for quite awhile, (mostly concentrated during the times of the cold war, but it still happens), and you can see how those countries have suffered because of it (no doubt along with other factors).
  8. Alex Gauthier the problem with early childhood education from a spending standpoint is that the benefits aren't immediately recognizable. That kind of investment takes half a lifetime to really pay off
8 comments
Ruebn
Ruebn

Would like to invite people to check out a watchdog website on the First 5 commissions - www.Flopped5.org

It's document driven and paid for by no one but a few middle of the road dudes who wanted to shine a little more light on how tax dollars are misused.

30 forced exits and $300 million in admittedly misdirected funds - the taxpayer deserves to know the truth about Prop 10.

Nathaniel M
Nathaniel M

Just FYI, there's a typo in the second sentence, its Rauch Foundation. Interesting study though.. is there any information on who funds this foundation or the studies?

I'm more inclined to believe gaps are caused by lack of loving and caring parents and destructive home environments for the vast majority of those who are underperforming, much less than the culprit being monetary influence between school districts (which is really what saying things like "demographics" and such mean).

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

the problem with early childhood education from a spending standpoint is that the benefits aren't immediately recognizable. That kind of investment takes half a lifetime to really pay off

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

Thanks for pointing that out, Nathaniel! Corrections have been made.

I completely agree with you on the cause of gaps in a student's school performance, but the point of putting more money into services for kids in the early years is so they'll have a much better environment to grow, at least for a while. Not sure what you mean in the second part of your reasoning, though.

Nathaniel M
Nathaniel M

No worries! And I meant simply that, at least in my area, the differences in the school district funding per child is extremely minimal, yet the gaps still exist along the most common "demographic" lines. We are talking a hundred or so dollars per student, between various districts, so overall, fairly equal funding, despite different economic areas in the districts (as in, the richer areas are funding extra for lower income areas, which I suppose is the 'love your neighbor' thing to do), yet it isn't solving the performance problems.. so just how much good does EXTRA funding do? I am afraid education in this country has been "politicized", and unfortunately there are a lot of people who will exploit that, and yell "for the children!" at any chance for more funding, even if it doesn't produce results, or even get spent on the students.

Nathaniel M
Nathaniel M

Thanks for the responses, Ill have to keep an eye out for news on those programs. And I agree entirely about the sincerity of the "for the children!" argument. I immediately question their motives, since while our children are a great, and perhaps our greatest "asset" (probably politically incorrect to call them that now days /eyeroll), we also learn more each day of how a person is most impressionable when they are very young. To me, logic says this is why politicizing education in my mind is an extremely bad thing. People like to claim slippery slopes are not valid, but we could very easily slip into a system where children are fairly effectively "educated" to view not only political issues, but the world, religions, ethnicities and decisions that will shape their lives, in a very skewed and politically guided way.. Many nations in the Eastern European bloc have had this problem for quite awhile, (mostly concentrated during the times of the cold war, but it still happens), and you can see how those countries have suffered because of it (no doubt along with other factors).

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

It's definitely important that the extra money actually does something substantial. I may not have stated that in the article, because I understand I only covered an increase in funding as a pretty positive move. But I've mentioned before that results from Head Start are mixed, and those are results coming from the Department of Health and Human Services. It highlights the point you make about how extra funding doesn't always equate to positive results.

I think a very good case to keep up with in the future is California. The state is likely to implement a funding formula that makes a pretty substantial shift to give districts with more disadvantaged students more money. The catch is that local school districts are going to have a lot more freedom with what they do with the money. Of course, they'll have to report to the state about their expenditures, but it'll be interesting to see how/if student performance or achievement gaps change.

In a way, you can look at California as an experiment (not sure how comfortable I'd be looking at school funding and real student performance as an experiment, though). And if/when the funding forumla gets instated, it could cover the concerns you bring up (whether or not positive results are yielded).

All of that does tie into how education has become politicized, though. In a sense, it could be a shame that it is politicized, but maybe it's bringing more attention to how education should be administered. But again, playing politics with youth development can be dangerous.

It's a bit funny that you brought up the whole "think about the children!!" argument. I was just talking about that with a couple of friends and how the phrase/justification gets thrown around so much as a default emotional appeal. It's hard to read the sincerity when someone uses that argument.