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April 20th, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Money for Education is Going to the Wrong Places

From Christine Romans

Our public school system is designated as K-12, but I like to say that it should be "Crawl through 12"

We need to invest in our kids now so we can save later. It's not happening, though. States are shrinking education budgets and in some cases even stopping pre-kindergarten programs. That fewer of our kids now have the chance to go to pre-school prevents them from developing the precious skills needed to interact with other kids their age and be ready for kindergarten. In fact, they enter kindergarten at a level 18 months behind other kids their age. Without a quality education, they may never catch up and are more likely to need special education services or become dropouts.

The stats in this graphic are startling. A child’s early education is now directly linked to their family income level. And the more income, the more likely they are to be in a quality pre-k program.

(click for full view)

 On Your Bottom line I take a look at the science showing the need for early education and the politcs now taking it over.

Here is part of my conversation with conservative commentator Christopher Metzler of Georgetown University and Sam Chaltain a former New York City school teacher and education activist. They both agree the your tax dollars are going to the wrong places.

Christopher Metzler: Unfortunately education is not a sacred cow, and as we keep hearing cut cut cut education is not a sacred cow and that's where we have to start.

Christine Romans: I think that's a good point and I want to be very clear I don't use the words spend and invest interchangably because they are not exactly the same word. I know we are spending a lot but how are we making those investments and making sure those investments pay off because the early childhood education part of this is so critical. If you invest the right dollar early on you are saving many many more dollars later on.Now Sam, I know you disagree with Chris, but President Obama has been in office more than three years now. Where is the evidence that he is improving education in this country?

Sam Chaltain: I don't know that you can point to a ton of evidence that suggests that and I think part of it is because both parties fail to understand whats most essential to transfer the state teaching and learnign from what it currently is what it ought to be in the future.


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