Interesting piece in the New York Times by James J. Heckman, Professor of Economics the University of Chicago, on early childhood education for all.
Everyone knows that education boosts productivity and enlarges opportunities, so it is natural that proposals for reducing inequality emphasize effective education for all. But these proposals are too timid. They ignore a powerful body of research in the economics of human development that tells us which skills matter for producing successful lives. They ignore the role of families in producing the relevant skills They also ignore or play down the critical gap in skills between advantaged and disadvantaged children that emerges long before they enter school.
While education is a great equalizer of opportunity when done right, American policy is going about it all wrong: current programs don’t start early enough, nor do they produce the skills that matter most for personal and societal prosperity.
America has an ingrained distrust against the State interfering in the lives of children and families, which is part of why their “daycare” system is so dysfunctional.
But there is a growing discussion and debate in the US about the importance of early childhood education, particularly following President Obama’s recent focus on ECE.
With Australia still facing structural funding issues with ECE, and a strong focus on testing and outcomes in the school system, a focus on addressing inequality and giving young people the skills and resilience to become successful could be very powerful.
The article is part of the New York Times’ series The Great Divide, which focuses on inequality in various forms. Well worth following.