Early education shows long-term payoffs

Early education paid off in the long run for low-income children who spent two to six years in Chicago’s Child-Parent Center Education Program (CPC). In a study published in Science, University of Missouri and University of Minnesota researchers found 9 percent higher high school graduation rates,  22 percent fewer felony arrests, less substance abuse and higher earnings by age 28 for CPC graduates compared to a control group.

The Chicago Child-Parent Center program begins in preschool and provides up to six years of service in the Chicago public schools.

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  1. The researchers used data from the Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS), which is an ongoing study of the development of a single group of low-income minority children growing up in the inner city.

    Does this result generalize? By analogy, strand two groups of 100 white male adults in the Sahara in August. One group gets 20,000 gallons of polluted water, five tons of rotten vegetables, and five tons of spoiled meat. The other group gets nothing. Return in two weeks and assess longevity. You will conclude that polluted water, rotten vegetables, and spoiled meat enhance longevity.

  2. Are you daring to imply that some parents care for their children better than others? How judgmental of you. (snark off)

  3. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I’d thought one of the huge benefits of preschool for lower income kids was that it closed the language gap. Which means that parents who give their kids a richer-language environment than the average pre-school would probably see no gains here…..

  4. Years ago I read a study that claimed to find a higher correlation between student performance in year Y and family income in year Y+10 (or something) later than between student performance and current family income. The authors suggested that parents who planned well generated higher-performing kids and higher incomes.

    The idea that professional daycare outperforms family always seemed unlikely to me. Are daycare providers not parents? Do children of strangers do better than the children of daycare providers? If it’s not some attribute of non-parents, but resources, what resources do three-year-olds require? I don’t get it.

  5. I didn’t see a link to the paper (and discount press releases from university media people) but it looks likely that this is like the Perry Preschool results; it doesn’t lead to success, but to a reduced rate of failure in a population with anomalously high failure rates. Most of the financial return on Perry was a reduction from 55 percent to 39 percent (that is, 11 fewer male children than in the control group) in the probability that a boy would spend years in prison as an adult. I think the Chicago group was less massively disadvantaged than the children in the Perry study, but I haven’t looked into that recently.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    One of the perennial problems in such “science”.