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Can Daycare Replace Higher Education?

It seems every year studies come out showing the significant effect quality early education can have on a person. Programs like head start and pre-k are now well documented to affect more positive outcomes in everything from socio-emotional well being to cognitive abilities. These are effects that last a lifetime and affect most aspects of life.  Pair this with a modern system of higher education whose purpose and relevance is commonly under increasing scrutiny and you may have a recipe for changing priorities.  With the debates on the costs of education heating up, and bewildering numbers coming out on the costs of both college and daycare, a real debate is beginning on where our money is better spent.education

An article on TheAtlantic.com delves into this question of where our priorities, and money, for education should go. They start by citing some staggering numbers.

“…day care actually costs more than tuition and fees at a public four-year college. The finding, which is based on a 2013 report by Child Care Aware America, specifically refers to the care of an infant—but the high costs of caring for and educating children continue until they enter kindergarten.”

The report they mention specifically states that

”The annual cost of daycare for an infant exceeds the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at public colleges in 31 states.”

Many (some studies say most) people are starting to believe that the thousands of public dollars we throw into higher education with sometimes questionable results may be better spent aiming for the positive outcomes proven to stem from educating children. Regardless of the effectiveness on either type of education, the fact that both are becoming increasingly unaffordable becomes worrying. The idea that we should move more public funds into early education is definitely valid, given its rising costs and solid effectiveness, but to say supporting early education is synonymous with limiting support for higher education rubs many people the wrong way. Others argue that the effectiveness of early education is exactly because it has limited input from the public sector, and although obscenely expensive, is more able to adapt to individual children’s needs and interests.

The Atlantic article goes on to list the large bi-partisan support for increasing the funding to early education programs, and given the soaring costs and shrinking results of higher education, it may not be a bad way to get more educational bang for your buck.

What do you think?

Original article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/pre-k-vs-college/412048/

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