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Notes From the Fieldby Martin Weil

November 19, 2012

Preschool May Be THE Answer

If there was just one simple program that could dramatically reduce the incidences of teenage pregnancy, drug use, and crime, as well as increase both high school graduation and employment rates for at-risk populations, I would say we had found something truly momentous.

According to this Planet Money podcast, the state of Oklahoma has found and is implementing just such a program … and it is universal pre-school.

This is not just wishful thinking. The OK project is based on hard data of social outcomes and cost benefits that have been documented over fifty (yes, that says “50”) years by various research projects, see here and here. A recent University of Chicago study finds a lifetime financial return on investment of 300% for preschool spending.

The Oklahoma project is being funded by George Kaiser, one of America’s richest 20 persons according to Forbes, who says he was persuaded by the research data that preschool had the highest rate of return of any possible social program he could support.

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