Melissa Harris-Perry | February 17, 2013
>>> every dollar we spend saves $7 down the line, increases high school graduation rates and reduces the crime rates . that was vailry jared who i had the opportunity to speak with on friday. she echoed the research the question is how do we pay for it according to the center of american progress providing preschool for all 3 and 4-year-olds that cost the government $98.4 billion over a ten-year period. with kuss on the horizon, would lose $406 million in funding in the 2013 -14 school year. that means 200,000 children would lose out on the program according to the head start association. those cuts would be a huge slash to what is already a decade of funding for head start . joining our table is stephen barnett, the director at rutgers university where he focuses on the economics of early child care and education. first nerd question, we think we know there's a $7 return but it comes from observational studies . we look at kids in head start . talk to me about the random assignment . what do those studies tell us?
>> the $7 figure is actually from both kinds of studies. there are randomized trials that show $7 or more returns just as there are simple observational studies . there's two trial that is have cost analysis. one is not as high as seven, it's in the two to three two one range. we can't put a dollar value on it. i know that's my job as an economist, if your kid doesn't have an abortion it's important, but i can't put a dollar value on it.
>> if you don't go to jail or don't end up pregnant when you don't mean to, they have a social good on the back end but we don't know if it's a $10 social good or $20 social good. you are a bit of a skeptic on the questions of early childhood education of this pre-k.
>> having a 4-year-old daughter, i have it. my bank account would love for there to be universally good pre-k education where i live. there's not. so there's that. one of the seven numbers that you reference is pursuant. the $7 for the elderly versus one for the kids. that is the fact of our budget situation now, long term. the reason why we have sequester cuts is we are supposed to look toward the fiscal stability which we aren't anymore. that money that we are promising to seniors by when they turn 65 regardless of their sense of need for it is crowding out everything else. that plus the debt service. we have to think about these are competing against one another. if you want to have all the spending on education. the other thing is we have been spending a lot of money on education in k-12 to not very good results. we have more than doubled the per student, per capita adjusted for inflation and results are flat. why do we think we are going magically have better results for pre-k, i'm not convinced.
>> this is the claim on the right. well, your k-12 is a mess, right? why should we now push it back to 4-year-olds?
>> i think we should push it back because it had other kinds of effects. if we think about the single mothers , if your kids are in school at 3, 4 and 5, that frees yo up to be able to go out into the work force . you know where the child is. i think it helps them to socialize. if you aren't able to get your kids in early, the language skills don't happen. you are reading faster, the comprehension. all the problems i'm reading about, hopefully they can work on those earlier.
>> is it right? does pre-k set social skills like reading and math?
>> absolutely. a good preschool program you learn to think before you act. i's an important skill for staying out of jail. it's an important skill in school. it's important in the job market . to learn how to get along with other people. to solve a problem. both of us want to play with a truck. there's the solution that the big kid takes it away from the small one or is there another way? hobbs is right. hobbs is right. i's what preschool is about. we need to teach kids all of the skills that they need very early on to succeed in school, to succeed in life. some of them are reading math science, some of them are taking personal responsibility and getting along with others.
>> raul, it sounds so reasonable despite our fundamental spending problems, my bet is we are going to have a hard time forming a bipartisan movement toward this.
>> i agree. complicated these matters is changing composition of who is in the public schools . i think roughly, one in four people, kids in the public schools k-12 is latino. that number is going to grow from this point on. right now, latino children, 3, 4, they access pre-k and lower levels than their counter parts, african-americans and whites. the language abilities matter. many are coming from homes where spanish is spoken predominantly or the parents are overworked and cannot give them the care they need at home. i think it's the political challenge to convince everyone that we need to, you know, support this and contribute to this. there's a tendency to look at them as others.
>> we have to figure out if we can convince matt first, m thank you to steve barnett . thank you for coming in. more with raul, and matt. next up, race talk far beyond black and white. also, the color of comedy. more nerdland at the top of the hour.
>>> congratulations melissa on a year of making tv smarter. could you dumb it down a little bit so the rest of us could seem smart, too. is that asking too