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Detroit Schools Are in Desperate Need of Subsidized Early Education Programs, And This Is Why

Children with teacher at school.
“We’ve tried everything, and my jails are still bursting at the seams,” said Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, speaking about Michigan’s high incarceration rate.

Napoleon and Bettison were just two Michigan law enforcement officials who recently met with members of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, which conducted a study on the connection between high incarceration rates and low-quality early education in the state of Michigan.

The study, “Cost Savings of School Readiness Per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit and Michigan,” predictably showed that higher-quality education, starting as early as preschool or kindergarten, is inextricably linked to lower crime rates and lower incarceration rates.

“In this state, only 4% of the prisoners under the age of 20 have a high school diploma…I get people in the jail that can’t spell the name of the street they live on. Some of them can’t spell their mother’s name,” said Napoleon.

“Everyone wants to get tough on crime, and build more jails and prisons, but getting to the root causes of crime is getting tough on crime,” agreed Detroit Police Cmdr. Todd Bettison.

According to the Detroit News, researchers conducting the study have estimated that for each child in Detroit enrolled in an early education program, taxpayers save about $96,000, which would otherwise be funneled into the criminal justice system.

Ideally, the Detroit News states, politicians will recognize the importance of funding early education programs, especially for children living in low-income households. Law enforcement officials, like Napoleon and Bettinson, are hoping to continue working with education advocacy groups, like the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, to convince Michigan lawmakers to reallocate federal and state funding.

In a perfect world, every child would have the opportunity to attend a private school that provides exceptional care to young children, such as one with a Montessori-based learning system. According to a February 2015 article by the U.S. News and World Report, the majority of the 8,000 Montessori schools across the country focus on early education programs; studies have proven that students in these programs are more likely to develop better academic, social, and emotional skills.

Although Detroit is far from a perfect world, simply creating a safe space for young children to develop healthy skills would be incredibly beneficial. For the parents with limited incomes who can’t afford to send their young children to anyextra programs, Napoleon has explained that even the smallest amount of funding would help get young kids off the streets, into classrooms, and out of jail cells.

“We’re all winners when we can see our kids in a cap and gown instead of an orange jumpsuit.”

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