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500 Researchers, Including Many from NC, Call on Policymakers to Increase Early Childhood Investments

Posted November 13, 2014 in News

A group of more than 500 researchers and academics from around the country released an open letter urging policymakers on all levels of government to support greater investments in high-quality early childhood education. The letter, released in conjunction with the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) and the First Five Years Fund (FFYF).

The letter crystallizes an overwhelming body of research in human development, psychology, education, and economics, which details how high-quality early childhood education programs for children from birth to age five are one of the best economic bets we can make. It begins:

“As policymakers debate investing in quality early childhood education programs, they should note the widespread agreement among researchers about the value of such programs. An extensive body of research in education, developmental psychology, neuroscience, medicine and economics shows that quality early childhood education programs produce better education, health, economic and social outcomes for children, families, and the nation. As researchers, we urge policymakers to make decisions based on the full body of scientific knowledge about early education and child development. We provide this research summary to support and guide future investment in quality early childhood education programs.”

Research shows that investing in these early years, particularly on behalf of disadvantaged children, produces impressive social and economic returns. Some of our country’s costliest fiscal challenges – grade repetition, special education, high school dropout, crime, and health costs – all are shown to be impacted significantly by evidence-based investments in early education. Quality early education can be brought to scale, with examples available across the country.

Fortunately, momentum is building. This year alone, Congress launched a $250 million Preschool Development Grants, competition which has generated interest from 35 states (including North Carolina), extended the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program and allocated $1.4 billion in early childhood education funding.

A recent North Carolina poll by the bipartisan team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research for the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF) and the First Five Years Fund confirms that North Carolina voters also view greater investment in early childhood education as a critical issue for states and the nation.  The poll found:

  • 70% of NC voters support home visiting programs.
  • 74% of NC voters support expanding access to NC Pre-K and Smart Start.
  • 88% of NC voters support investing in preschool and early elementary teacher training and classroom resources and training.

NCECF Board Member, Kenneth Dodge, is among the 26 North Carolinian signers. The NC list includes:

  • Allison B Landy, State Programs Director
  • Anna Gassman-Pines, Assistant Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Clara Muschkin, Assistant Research Professor, Duke University
  • Danielle Crosby, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, University of North Carolina
  • at Greensboro
  • Deborah J. Cassidy, Professor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • Diana Leyva, Assistant Professor, Davidson College
  • Diane Early, Scientist, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Edward Fiske, Education Writer
  • Frances A, Campbell, Senior Scientist, University of NC at Chapel Hill
  • Helen Ladd, Professor, Duke University
  • Jeff Rosenberg, Early Childhood Educator/Administrator
  • Karen Appleyard Carmody, Assistant Professor, Duke University
  • Kenneth Dodge, Professor, Duke University
  • Lisa Schell, Parent Educator, Burke County Public Schools
  • Mary Knight-McKenna, Associate Professor, Elon University
  • Noreen Yazejian, Research Scientist, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Pam Winton, Senior Scientist and Research Professor, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Richard M Clifford, Senior Scientist Emeritus, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • RM Schell, PhD, BCBA-D, Director of Psychology, Riddle Developmental Center
  • Robert Carr, Graduate Research Assistant, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Sam Oertwig, Scientist, FirstSchool, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Samuel L. Odom, Director, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Sandra Soliday Hong, Fellow, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
  • Sharon Palsha, Clinical Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Sharon Ritchie, Senior Scientist, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Terri Barrett, Professor, Lenoir-Rhyne University

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