This Wednesday, a national leader will come to Mizzou's campus to lobby for yet another group in need of a government bailout. The difference is this group never made a single risky investment nor spent a dime of tax payer money on luxury, executive getaways. The speaker is from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the group that truly deserves a bailout is our pre-K children.
Families in America today face an inadequate patchwork of pre-K programs. Only 1 in 5 children has access to state-funded, voluntary pre-K, and the quality of programs — which is critical to producing positive results — varies widely. In Missouri, the figures are even worse – voluntary pre-K access is below 1 in 20 and we rank below every one of our neighbors in funding and enrollment.
We can pay now for quality pre-K, or we can pay much more later to cope with more children who need special education classes, more children who get held back a grade, more children who drop out of high school, or more children who end up in prison.
I want to reiterate that this really is an investment opportunity for us all. At a return of more than $2 to every $1 spent, investment in voluntary pre-K is one of the best going these days. When deciding who to bailout next, perhaps we should consider the following question. Who deserves it more: risk takers and wealth seekers or the young future of our country?