“Fiscal Realities” Trumps Common Sense

“Fiscal Realities” Trumps Common Sense

black-and-white-sweet-cute-sad-kid-girl-adorableAlberta Education will stop funding the 1-year full-time kindergartens for Catholic board starting this fall. The public board (CBE) did not participate. It cited “fiscal realities” as the reason.

Universal Pre-School and Full-Day Kindergarten should be free and easily assessable to neediest children. Not only does it help those who are vulnerable, it also helps all children regardless of household social status and propels mothers to return to the workforce, boosting household incomes, especially for low income ones, resulting in less reliance on social welfare.

One of the most interesting and profound education research outcome in the last 40 years is that Pre-school and Full-Day Kindergarten yield the highest return on education investment, bar none. Return on education, which is often defined as dollars spent on education versus measurable outputs such as life-time income increase and/or social mobility (upward movement of social class). This is especially true for children in low income or single-parent households.

In a 2009 OECD study (OECD is a group of rich countries or regions), countries with enthusiastic pre-school and full-day kindergarten programs, such as Singapore, Israel, Belgium, France and Switzerland, found conclusively that high rate of pre-school education contributed positively to social mobility by a large margin.

Another landmark study from Larry Summers, a prominent economists, found children from low income families who attended free pre-school and full-day kindergarten were 18% more likely to complete high school compare to those did not attend any pre-school. Other studies with similar outcomes were dated back to 1960’s.

Decades of research has repeatedly showing that people with a high school education make much high life-time income than high school dropouts in rich countries. The logic goes high school graduates tend to be more healthy (i.e. less health care spending), less likely to commit crime (i.e. less prison time), less like to obtain social benefits and pay more taxes due to higher incomes.

Here is the problem; rich voters are not keen on programmes that benefit mostly poor families.

Unfortunately, our government gave in to election pressure. The 1 year pilot full-time kindergarten program for Catholic schools is scrapped. (Note: CBE did not participate in the pilot program. Reason unknown.)

This is truly disappointing.




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