I recently had the opportunity to join Gov. Inslee at Fort Stevens Elementary in Yelm to visit the school’s youngest students and discuss the importance of early learning with the governor and school and community members. There are many good reasons to invest in early learning for children at-risk of school failure and the one most compelling to me as a chief of police is the proven reduction in later crime.
Long-term studies in Chicago and Michigan tracked two groups of at-risk kids for decades. The researchers found that the kids who were assigned to attend a high-quality preschool were much more likely to be successful in school, graduate and stay out of trouble with the law than the kids who did not attend the preschool. In the Chicago study, the kids left out of the preschool were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18 than those who attended.
It’s really clear to me that the best way to actually prevent crime is to make sure high-quality early learning is readily available to the kids most at-risk of school failure and getting off track later in life. The Legislature is facing another budget challenge this year. I urge them to follow the governor’s lead and make new investments that will increase the quality of early learning and expand access for our most at-risk youngsters. The future safety of our community depends on it.
CHIEF TODD STANCIL
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