ReadyNation Report Outlines Business Case for PA to Invest More in Early Childhood Education

HARRISBURG (April 15, 2015) – A ReadyNation report examining the benefits of quality early learning on the economy was released today as business leaders from across Pennsylvania convened for the annual Early Learning Investment Commission’s (ELIC) Economic Summit on Early Childhood Investment.

The report, Business Case in Pennsylvania for Early Childhood Investments, outlines the business case for investing in pre-k. Pennsylvania businesses are in need of job-ready, team-capable and well-prepared employees, and high-quality early learning programs help build the foundation for these attributes.

“As business leaders, we know that we get better employees in the long-term when we prioritize high-quality early childhood education,” said Nick Scott Jr., a Pennsylvania business owner (Scott Enterprises, Erie) who serves on the Pre-K for PA Executive Leadership Council. “An investment in our youngest learners is an investment in our state’s economy, and right now we are falling behind.”

The report finds that smart, proven investments in Pennsylvania’s youngest learners are critically needed to protect the commonwealth’s competitive edge in a global marketplace. Such investments:

  • Benefit children and parents: Twenty-three percent of children in Pennsylvania under six are from low-income, working families, yet only 5 percent of 3-year-olds and 13 percent of 4-year-olds are enrolled in state-funded pre-k programs.
  • Prepare children for the classroom: Early deficits are reflected in school, where at-risk students who have missed out on early education opportunities often struggle to keep up with classmates, even from the first day of kindergarten. Many students fail to catch up: a full 44 percent of Pennsylvania fourth graders perform below grade level in math, and 40 percent perform below grade level in reading.
  • Help earn caps and gowns: Fourteen percent of high school students in Pennsylvania still have not donned a cap and gown after four years. And among high school graduates, only 38 percent meet the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in the four core areas (English, reading, math, and science) and may not have the skills necessary for postsecondary education.
  • Aid in college and careers: By 2020, 63 percent of jobs and 62 percent of job vacancies in Pennsylvania will require postsecondary education. Longitudinal studies of the Abecedarian
project have shown that high-quality early learning from six months to age 5 can improve students’ rates of college completion. Higher education often means higher earnings: one study estimated that the additional lifetime income if Pennsylvania’s dropouts had graduated with their class in 2011 was over $4 billion.

Today’s ELIC summit convenes nearly 200 business and civic leaders from across the commonwealth to discuss early learning and child development. The commission is made up of governor-appointed business leaders who understand the value of investing in early learning as a means to build an effective, competitive workforce and a stronger economy.

ReadyNation is the preeminent business leader organization working to strengthen business and the economy through effective investments in children and youth. For more information, visit www.readynation.org.

Pre-K for PA is an issue campaign supported by individuals and organizations across Pennsylvania who believe that investing in our children is the right choice and an urgent necessity. The campaign’s vision is that every 3- and 4-year-old in Pennsylvania will have access to high-quality pre-k. For more information, visit www.prekforpa.org.

 

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