Oakland officials voice support of early education funding

March 27, 2012 5:29:11 PM PDT
Spending money on young children now may help keep them out of trouble later. That's according to a new study released in the Bay Area by Oakland's top law enforcement officials. Tuesday, those officials threw their voices behind an effort to persuade the public and lawmakers in Sacramento to protect funding for early education, or expect to pay more later on jails.

The report shows California spends 10 times more on corrections than it does on early childhood education, programs which are facing more funding cuts next year.

"Cutting these vital investments is not in the best interest of our efforts to reduce crime in Oakland," said Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan.

This year, California will spend $7.8 billion on corrections and $784 million on early education. That includes preschool and transitional kindergarten classes like those at Oakland's Greenleaf Elementary which serve children who are too young or not ready for traditional kindergarten.

"The learning that takes place here at Greenleaf in our transitional kindergarten classroom is instrumental in providing young minds with early literacy and math skills that they will need to succeed in school," said principal Monica Thomas.

One 20-year study found that by age 26, young people who did not attend preschool were 39 percent more likely to spend time in jail or prison.

"We need the early childhood funds," said Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley. "We need those protected because we're spending so much money on the other end, the criminal justice end."

The report was commissioned by a statewide group called Fight Crime, Invest in Kids. Their goal is to persuade lawmakers to reject another $180 million in cuts Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed for next year.


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