Erie Push for Preschool Education - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Erie Push for Preschool Education

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Children playing, socializing and learning at the Early Learning Center at Penn State Behrend had no idea that steps away, grownups are discussing their future impact on the economy on Monday.

"The message is high quality preschool programs and parenting programs that benefit the whole community," said Dr. Timothy Bartik, Senior Economist of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. "You build up a more skilled local work force for the economy and down the road."

Conference planner, Dr. James Kurre, knows it's a hot topic. "The conference was a sellout because community leaders are beginning to understand the payoff of investing in early learning," he said.

"Early childhood education is the best way to stimulate the local economy over the long term. It seems like investing in 3, 4, 5, year olds pays off in terms of kids being better in school and better workers," Kurre said.

Businessman Nick Scott Jr. is convinced. Scott sits on the PA Early Learning Investment Commission. He also understands the downside of kids without the benefit of a good educational start.

"Some kids who get off on the wrong start aren't ready for kindergarten. There's a tipping point in third grade," Scott said. "They end up costing more, they're incarcerated or need remediation. It's an issue near and dear to my heart and should be near and dear to everyone's heart," he said.

Educators are happy to have economists and business leaders on board.

"It's so powerful and reinforcing to those who have been in early childhood education for decades," said Nancy Kalista, Executive Director of Early Connections. "To have the support and investment - it's going to make such a difference."

They hope this conference will translate to more private and public support.

 

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