Welcome to the Author Blog for Sheila Nutkins. Here you will find information and Sheila's own thoughts and opinions on topical issues relating to early childhood education and care.

Friday, 29 March 2013

James Heckman: In early childhood education, ‘Quality really matters.’

James J. Heckman is the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. He shared the 2000 Nobel for his work on correcting for selection biases when doing econometric studies, developing techniques which he applied to measuring everything from the economic effects of civil rights laws on African-Americans to the economic benefits (or lack thereof) of GEDs. Recently, he has done considerable work on early childhood education, including detailed studies of the Perry preschool experiment.

James Heckman famously stated and produced a graph to show that it was most cost effective for governments to spend money on education and care of children in the early years and in this interview at  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/14/james-heckman-in-early-childhood-education-quality-really-matters/   in 2010 he re-confirms this saying:

Quality really matters. That’s been pretty well documented. I would argue Perry, which has been most thoroughly evaluated, is extensive. In terms of the return on investment, per dollar return, the annual return for what you’d get on a bond or some kind of fixed income, you would have a rate that was 6-10 percent per year, which is extremely high. So even though it costs something, it’s about the return is to society and to the individuals.
They are very good investments. They’re very comparable with stocks at the end of the second World War. Return was about 6.9 percent. Pretty comparable. It’s a range, because there are certain subjective elements. But that’s a very high rate of return and it’s far superior to a range of activities, compared to, say, Job Corps, where the return is negative. I’m an economist. I would talk about both the benefits and the costs. And if the benefits really outweigh the costs, I think that’s something very rare. So it’s a good investment.

This issue is again explored in the final section of the book and the HighScope Perry Pre-school research is explored in chapter 14.

I do not see much evidence from government at any level that his message regarding the economic importance of the education and care of very young children, is being recieved, understood or acted upon.  Do you?

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