Thursday, October 13, 2011

High Price of Wall Street's Mess

Wall Street's excesses blew up the economy. Now the question is who pays to clean up the mess. Across the country, our children are already paying part of the bill -- as their schools are hit with deep budget cuts. A new report -- Starving America's Public Schools: How Budget Cuts and Policy Mandates are Hurting our Nation's Students -- released today by the Campaign for America's Future and the National Education Association, looks at five states to detail what this means to kids in our public elementary and secondary schools. (Full disclosure: I co-direct the Campaign.) The findings are sobering.
Every study shows the importance of early childhood education. Analysts at the Federal Reserve discovered that investments in childhood development have, in the words of Fed Chair Ben Bernanke, such "high public as well as private returns" that the Fed has championed such investments to noting they save states money by reducing costs of drop outs, special education, and crime prevention. Yet across the country, states are slashing funding for per-kindergarten and even rolling back all day kindergarten. Now pre-K programs serve only about one-fourth of 4-year-olds. Ten states have eliminated funding for pre-K altogether, including Arizona. Ohio eliminated funding for all day kindergarten.

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