Smart investment

March 25, 2011 

My colleagues at Duke University recently published a report reaffirming that investing in early childhood education makes economic sense. The study found that children in counties that had more Smart Start and More at Four funding scored higher on standardized tests in the third grade. The study proves that Smart Start's impact lasts beyond kindergarten and creates a spillover effect, benefitting children throughout the community.

At the Fuqua business school, we teach students to invest in what yields good returns. These programs work! Legislators would be wise to look at the evidence. Early education lowers the cost of later investment. Young children at risk for school failure who participate in early childhood programs are less likely to repeat grades or to require special education services, which cost society much more than the earlier investment. Therefore, the total cost to society is less and the potential contribution from the child is much greater. Society is the beneficiary of this wise investment in young children.

I urge our General Assembly to make the right economic decisions for our future and for our children. We must find the money to do this or we will be paying far more later.

Thomas Keller


The writer is dean emeritus and R.J. Reynolds professor emeritus, Fuqua School of Business.

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