Journal Issue: The Next Generation of Antipoverty Policies Volume 17 Number 2 Fall 2007
Basic science and social program evaluations often conflict. Not so with the emerging neuroscience of early childhood development and the growing evaluation literature examining existing early education programs. As neuroscience documents the process by which increasingly sophisticated skills are wired into the brain, evaluations of highquality early education programs show that early skill building can generate a host of long-term benefits both for children in these programs and for society as a whole. Because there are good reasons to believe that program quality is a key ingredient for success, we propose a preschool education program with, among other features, small classes and well-qualified teachers. At $20 billion in annual cost, our proposed program is not cheap. But even if early education programs generate only a fraction of the social benefits demonstrated by model programs, they are one of the most profitable social investments for fighting future poverty.