Teachers College Symposium Exposes Social Costs of Inadequate Education
By StaffOne of the soundest investments for the financial and moral future of society is proper management of education. Significant educational gaps remain between whites and low income minority groups, spawning the creation of the Campaign for Educational Equity. At the recent symposium at Teachers College of Columbia University, underwritten by the Laurie Tisch Foundation, a member of the TC Board of Trustees, entitled "The Social Costs of Inadequate Education," a wealth of information was provided regarding the social ramifications of inadequate education, balanced by presentations of experts in educational research who shed light on promising pathways in education.
Dr. Clive Belfield provided a comprehensive examination of the role and state of early childhood education. Research has demonstrated far-reaching, long-term positive effects of pre-kindergarten on the individual and on society, with participation in such programs leading to reduction in the future in the high school dropout rate, crime, and teen pregnancy.
Belfield described that access to early education is actually higher for African Americans than for whites although examination of access to pre-school across the poverty line reveals that rates are lowest for those just above the poverty.
The challenge for attaining the promises Pre-K programs offer, according to Belfield, is to ensure that the most disadvantaged kids are getting access to quality pre-school. The caliber of pre-K education directly impacts the results it will generate; the gains of Head Start were not equivalent to those of Model Programs--the latter would require more funding.
Belfield further described the debate of Universalizing Pre-K versus targeting it. While Universal pre-school is more politically correct, due to funding limitations it would likely occur at a smaller scale, and according to Belfield, "small universal public subsidy is neither fully efficient nor especially equity enhancing."
This article, written by Liza Young, appeared in the November 2005 issue of Education Update.