Home > Uncategorized > Nick Kristof Discovers Professor Heckman’s Research But Forgets the “Reagan Rule”

Nick Kristof Discovers Professor Heckman’s Research But Forgets the “Reagan Rule”

Nick Kristof’s column today offers a well reasoned rationale for spending more money on preschool education based on the research of University of Chicago economist James Heckman and the research of several neuroscientists and early childhood psychologists. His synopsis Heckman’s research:

Hickman… measures the economic savings from investments in early childhood — because less money is spent later on juvenile courts, prisons, health care and welfare — and calculates that early-education programs for needy kids pay for themselves several times over.

He also describes research showing that pre-school might be too late:

To be clear, what’s needed is not just education but also help for families beginning in pregnancy, to reduce the risk that children will be born with addictions and to increase the prospect that they will be raised with lots of play and conversation. (By age 4, a child of professionals has heard 30 million more words than a child on welfare.)

The best metric of child poverty may have to do not with income but with how often a child is spoken and read to.

A wave of recent research in neuroscience explains why early childhood is so critical: That’s when the brain is developing most quickly. Children growing up in poverty face high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which changes the architecture of the brain, compromising areas like the amygdala and hippocampus.

And after exhorting politicians to focus on this issue in their campaigns, he concludes with this:

We rescued banks because they were too big to fail. Now let’s help children who are too small to fail.

After reading his column with a mix of hope and resignation, I left the following comment:

We rescued banks that were too big to fail without having to raise taxes… and we can only help children who are too small to fail by increasing government funding… and we all know that “government is the problem”… and we also know that “we can’t raise money without cutting something else” because we dont want to add to the deficit and we don’t want to increase taxes! Here’s the sad reality: if we want to give money to little kids we have to take it away from big kids… and those of us who are big kids seem to have forgotten that we got here thanks to the generosity of taxpayers from an earlier generation.

As indicated in my previous post, articles like this make me wish and hope that My Generation will come to its senses and start advocating for a government that lends a helping hand to those in need instead of building moats and walls around ourselves.

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