AdkAction.org was invited to join with a number of local foundations to start an investigation into our pre-school systems. Recent studies, some of them initiated over thirty years ago but which are just now providing meaningful statistics show an amazing result. Not the result most of us would expect, which is that pre-school can help ready a child for regular school, but unforeseen results ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road or more.
In two controlled studies, one conducted in North Carolina, the other in Michigan, control groups of kids with and without pre-school were monitored for IQ, school performance, college entry, and much later life experiences. Perhaps to be expected, the pre-school group did consistently better in school. Perhaps more surprising, the pre-school group maintained a higher tested IQ through grammar and high school. And truly amazing, the pre-school group ended up with half the incarcerations, half the teen pregnancies, and four times the graduation rate from four-year colleges. Their incomes were 50% higher, their auto and home ownership rates were way above the control-group, and their divorce rates were way less.
The experts have now concluded that early childhood education, from birth (not age four as currently proposed for expanded government support), changes outcomes dramatically. Language turns out to be one critical factor – just helping infants and toddlers create the brain cells needed to process language is key to their development.
The program being considered is to bring together the power brokers in education to discuss how a combination of public and private initiatives could help our less advantaged citizens give their children a better start in life. At this stage we have nothing to report other than we are working on it, but it seems to be the type of project AdkAction.org loves. No politics, no opponents. No losers, only winners.
Creation of the Birth to Three (BT3) Alliance
The result of the investigation into our pre-school systems has been a program called the BT3 Alliance. BT3 is championed by the Adirondack Foundation. From their website:
"The vision of the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance (BT3) is that all young children are healthy, learning, and thriving in families that are supported by a full complement of services and resources essential for successful development. Research conducted all over the world shows that improving care, nutrition, and education during a child’s first 1,000 days has a profound impact on his or her life. Moved by the mounting evidence of the importance of a child’s first years, Adirondack Foundation has brought together a small band of funding partners to form BT3. In April 2015, we convened 36 service agency representatives, service providers, and other stakeholders, who were unanimous in a strong desire to work together toward a common goal of providing a great start for our children—and the BT3 Alliance was born.
By far the most effective and efficient investment in education is in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life. Seventy-five percent of the brain’s neural connections—pathways responsible for the cognitive, social and emotional development of the individual—are in place by the age of three. Adirondack Foundation is working with the Cloudsplitter, Chapel Hill and Grabe Family Foundations, and other families to put Adirondack counties at the top of the list of best places to raise children who will enjoy healthy, happy, successful lives."
AdkAction is proud of the work done to create this important Alliance. To learn more, visit the Adirondack Birth to Three Initiative Website.
Past Project: Early Childhood Education