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Could Crime Have Its Roots in Preschool?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Phil Mislinski/Stringer
    More than 2,000 rising kindergartners are wait listed in 112 public schools citywide.

    Last month, my Prop Zero counterpart, Joe Mathews, blogged about a study in San Diego that shows struggling students can be helped when given more time to read.

    Specifically, these were middle-school aged kids who took extended length reading classes and made big gains in their reading scores.  This month, a new report from the non-profit organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California suggests the long term solution to special education classes and crime in the state should start in preschool.

    The report states that for every $1 spent on preschool today, $16 could be saved over the long term.  State Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-concord) agrees -- and he should know.  He's the Chairman of the Budget Subcommittee for the Department of Corrections.  "California spends $225,000 per year on each incarcerated juvenile," he says.   

    You know how California is granting early releases for some prisoners due to overcrowding?  Seems this could be a long-term fix.

    Some local law enforcement officials are encouraging legislators to support more education for preschoolers in order to save millions of dollars on crime in the future.  According to Pleasant Hill Police Chief Pete Dunbar, "children who attended preschool where 43 percent less likely to need special education services.
     
    In a Utopian type society we'd have just figured out a simple way to reduce crime in the long term.  Real Orwellian kind of stuff.  But Utopia this isn't.  It's the state of California in 2010 where the budget is 70 days overdue and the red ink totals $19 billion.

    Even if the study is true and accurate, would the state really commit more money to the cause?  Would the legislature be willing to sacrifice in the short term for a long term crime reduction plan?  Probably not.  Elections are always around the corner and a promise that won't come to fruition for 15 or 20 years would be ill advised.

    For now all we can do is consider the data.  Parents of very young kids should at least take note and give their little ones a head start.  Who would have thought that crime could have it's roots, and a partial solution, in preschool?  Just goes to show what one little book has been saying all along.  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.