Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Editorial: Pay now or later: Investing in pre-K can head off costlier problems

By the Editorial Board
Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed expansion of pre-kindergarten education got an assist Tuesday from some unexpected boosters: district attorneys who see future crime reductions and cost savings from the plan.

Outside a state prison near Harrisburg, the prosecutors joined with Mr. Wolf to announce their support for his initiative, which would extend pre-K access to 14,000 more students at a cost of $120 million.

As the Democratic governor and Republican-led Legislature tangle over how to close a $1.5 billion to $2 billion budget deficit, it is difficult to see how pre-K will figure into this battle. But advocates and law-enforcement officials present compelling evidence that these investments pay off and deserve special attention in the budgeting process.

According to a report by “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids,” a national advocacy group representing thousands of law-enforcement officials, including Allegheny County Sheriff William P. Mullen, Mr. Wolf’s proposal would save $350 million over the affected students’ lifetimes, cutting demand for special education, raising the number of high school graduates and lowering incarceration rates. The report cites two studies that found those who have had pre-K education less likely to be arrested later for violent crimes or sentenced to jail.

Read the full editorial here.