"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". Nelson Mandela
Here are 9 reasons why high-quality preschool is critical for Buncombe County's future:
1. High-Quality Preschool benefits ALL children throughout their school years and into adulthood
Extensive research studies show that preschool helps children at a time when their brains are developing most rapidly. These years are a critical window of opportunity to support a child's development socially, cognitively, and academically. The benefits of quality early learning extend throughout a child's education. In fact, children who have a quality early childhood education experience are more likely to attain a college degree, hold a well-paying job, own a home, be healthy, and avoid the criminal justice system.
2. Preschool provides far-reaching economic and social benefits for our community
Communities that invest in high-quality preschool ultimately save money because they reduce the dropout rate, special education costs, medical costs, as well as costs for law enforcement, courts, and incarceration. Instead, communities with high-quality preschool develop a more prepared citizenry and workforce - one that enjoys higher lifetime earnings and health outcomes. Investments in preschool also reduce the need for remediation, allowing schools to focus on progress and learning rather than distractions and discipline.
3. Quality preschool programs prepare children to succeed in school
When high-quality preschool is in place, all students are more ready and able to learn. Children who have a quality preschool experience show increased social maturity, stronger cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and a strong foundation for math and literacy skills. They also are less likely to misbehave in school or to need remedial attention. Quality preschool is a critical stepping stone for achieving the state goal of having all children read on grade level by 3rd grade.
4. Quality preschool programs help close the achievement gap
High-quality, early educational interventions are the most effective tools available to close the achievement gaps among students of different demographic and socio-economic backgrounds. While quality preschool programs can benefit any child, research shows that these programs are especially beneficial for minority and low-income children.
5. Preschool helps families support their children
Preschool programs can enhance parenting skills by bringing families in contact with resources that can support parents earlier in their child’s development. Preschool facilities often function as hubs for community health and the early identification of developmental and health issues.
In addition, quality preschool programs provide a smoother transition to kindergarten for both parents and children, ensuring kindergarteners are comfortable and ready to learn from day one. In addition, when working parents have access to quality preschool, they can be more productive employees - which benefits families and employers alike.
6. Preschool improves public safety
Quality early learning experiences prepare children for long-term, academic success, thereby reducing the likelihood they will become involved in crime in later years. District attorneys and law enforcement officials across the country support expanded early childhood education programs as a means of reducing future crime rates. Successful early childhood coalitions frequently include judges, police chiefs, district attorneys, court counselors, juvenile defenders, and other public safety and justice personnel.
7. Preschool provides a significant return on investment
The public and private money that we invest in preschool delivers significant value for our children and our community. In fact, Nobel Prize winning economist James Heckman estimates that for every $1 spent on early childhood education, communities save $7 in long-term costs for things like remediation, social supports, or criminal justice.
8. Preschool expansion can build on our existing assets
An expanded preschool system will require significant increases in the capacity of local organizations that currently provide preschool programs. We can build on the solid foundation currently provided by four-and five-star-rated private childcare centers, Head Start programs, NC Pre-K sites, and our public schools. Together, we can create a system that provides options for parents and simplifies the process of finding, enrolling and participating in preschool as well as transitioning into kindergarten - all in the most cost-effective way possible.
9. Building upon our existing preschool system positions our community to compete for new state and federal preschool funds
The full implementation of an expanded preschool system in Asheville and Buncombe County will need to grow incrementally over a period of years and will require additional local private and public funding. Our plan for high-quality preschool expansion will include a roadmap for securing funding from multiple sources, including state and federal investments. Fortunately, early childhood development is one of the few issues to enjoy bipartisan support among voters and elected officials.