Memphis Commercial Appeal published the following letter from CPI President General John Castellaw.
By John G. Castellaw, Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps (Retired) – As one of 200 retired general and flag officers who strongly support a new state-federal early learning proposal as a matter of national security, I read the October 17 guest column, “Prekindergarten hasn’t met expectations” with great disappointment.
A real tragedy is that three out of every four young Americans between 17 and 24 cannot meet the requirements for military service many because they are academically unprepared; three out of four!
Quality preschool will change this statistic and provide a return on investment to taxpayers, who save $9,000 for every child who, as a result of participating in Tennessee’s program, is not held back in school. The article may also be incorrect in saying advances in math, language and reading as a result of preschool “fade-out” because the data cited are based on a small number of children in an incomplete Vanderbilt study. A similar study of children in Michigan revealed advances lasting through 4thgrade, and found students were 35 percent more likely to graduate from high school.
Michigan is not alone. Children participating in New Jersey’s program were also less likely to be held back in school, and were well ahead of non-participants in math and literacy in 4th and 5th grade, according to reports by Mission: Readiness. In Boston, students achieved math and literacy skills equal to seven months of additional learning by the program’s end. And disadvantaged students in the San Francisco Bay area outperformed those from well-off circumstances in reading by second grade.