The Necessity of Early Education

Rock Morrille ’16

We as human beings have an obligation to make each life as complete as possible, and to provide opportunities for growth regardless of socioeconomic status. A significant part of fulfilling this obligation is providing education to all people at all levels. At this point in time, we have the resources to educate every child in America, and it’s a tragedy that this isn’t happening. Currently, 1 in 5 students in Texas completes a degree within 6 years of graduating high school. A large part of this problem can be traced to a point in time much earlier: Pre-Kindergarten. A 2013 study conducted by Houston Independent School District’s Department of Early Education found that 60% of kids leaving Pre-K and moving on to Kindergarten lacked the basic skills to identify letters. 62 percent could not count with the proficiency needed for Kindergarten. 78 percent couldn’t recognize numbers adequately, and 59% couldn’t write their name.

Another study called the Highscope Perry Preschool Study surveyed a group of children through age 40. This study used a high quality preschool environment and a control group of children who weren’t given any form of preschool education. Over the next 40 years, the research found that 67% of the preschool group had an IQ of 90 or higher compared to 28% of the control group. 77% of the preschool group graduated high school as opposed to 60 % of the control group. Finally, the study found that 36% of the preschool students had been arrested 5 or more times compared to 55% of the control group. Despite all those numbers, the message is very clear. Preschool education has a profound and noticeable effect on how someone’s life unfolds after they (possibly) finish high school, and even into their adult lives. This correlation also proves how much we as a society are failing to educate the young children.

This is a crippling failure on our part as a society in general. We, as Jesuit students, often forget that we represent an incredibly small portion of kids in Texas who are fortunate enough to be provided with this kind of education. We go to a top tier school, and we need to remember our responsibility to help those who aren’t as fortunate. 90% of brain development occurs by age 5, and only 5% of public education dollars are spent on early childhood education. Raising awareness for this issue is central to solving it. If we have the resources to help those less fortunate improve the quality of their lives, for the rest of their lives, then we should do it.