Early Childhood Education

This morning I had the opportunity to attend the Jackson stop of the Mississippi Economic Council‘s Marathon Tour, Building Our Competitive Future.  Plenty of good stuff about economic development, business climate, etc. One of the subjects happened to be Early Childhood Education. State Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds told the business audience that this was a subject of importance to them because today’s children are tomorrow’s workforce and consumers.

Afterwards, I went to my office, checked my e-mail and found a message from an organization whose CEO has become an early childhood advocate.  Quite a coincidence.  Just for fun, read the quote below and guess which buiness leader made the statement.  Was it:

John Donahoe
President and CEO
eBay, Inc.

Dennis P. Lockhart
President and Chief Executive Officer
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; or

Howard Schultz
President and CEO
Starbucks

Here’s a quote from a speech he made in September:

“…  In my varied career, I’ve spent more time in business than any other sector. As a new zealot for early education, I favor the direct, pragmatic, impatient-with-rhetoric language of my business colleagues. In that spirit, let me put forth five propositions:

1. Kindergarten is too late. At least it’s too late for many children, especially those from disadvantaged households. Children who do not arrive at kindergarten ready for the structure and content of the formal education process are behind on day one. Many will never catch up.
2. Early education generates high returns. Return on investment can be calculated, and that return is competitive with or superior to many discrete projects typically justified in economic development terms.
3. We (society) can pay now or pay later. Failure in school forces channeling of resources—tax dollars, philanthropy, and United Way funding—to treatment of social problems that are the consequence of that failure in school. Failure in school unquestionably contributes to the appalling statistics we see on phenomena such as school dropouts, teen pregnancy, crime, and incarceration.
4. Success requires public and private leadership. For the foreseeable future, leadership action and effective delivery of early education will require a hybrid model. Achieving quality in early education requires concerted efforts on the part of the public education system, nonprofit agencies, for-profit providers, churches, and a diverse funding community. Government financing and other support are likely to be necessary, but not sufficient. Business leadership—as is so often the case at the state and community level—is critical to fill gaps and gain traction.
5. Finally—my fifth argument—the train is leaving the station. Many states and communities across the country are moving forward on this issue, and momentum for early childhood education is building. There is a growing recognition that this is an idea whose time has come and progressive communities ought to and are getting on with it. With regard to international economic competition, the train has left the station. Many of our competitors are well ahead.”
The answer is….

…  Dennis P. Lockhart
President and Chief Executive Officer
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Click here to read his entire speech.

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