Just about every day the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg is filled with concerned people holding a rally about some cause dear to them. But it's not every day that an issue has the power to spark academic growth, enhance the economic outlook for future generations and reap rewards for local communities.
That issue is early childhood education. Studies show that children enrolled in quality early education do better on standardized tests, need less remediation, are more likely to graduate and less likely to turn to crime or need costly welfare services as adults, saving taxpayers money in the long run.
Economists and business leaders are increasingly convinced that high-quality early education is a sound investment - creating a productive workforce, stimulating the economy, and yielding significant financial returns. Famed economist and Nobel Laureate James Heckman noted, "Investments in high-quality early education programs have the highest rate of return of any social investment."
It's in this vein - that early learning programs make a difference to children, schools and communities - that advocates will come together in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday, April 12 for Early Childhood Action Day.
You can register here for Action Day: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e3gkg68rc7c369eb&llr=5onzt9bab
As our economy continues to rebuild, children still face many unmet needs so it's important to protect current investments including pre-K, child care, Head Start and full-day kindergarten. Last year more than 500 people from across Pennsylvania jammed the Capitol Rotunda in support of these programs. I can tell you their voices were heard!
I hope you'll join us again this year – or join us for the first time – if you are concerned about how early learning programs fare in the 2011-12 state budget. Kids don't get to vote, so your role, my role, OUR role as child advocate is essential.
Please join us. Register for Early Childhood Action Day: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e3gkg68rc7c369eb&llr=5onzt9bab
Joan L. Benso, president and CEO, PA Partnerships for Children