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Association profile: Group takes an investor’s approach to education

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo – The Alliance for Childhood Education takes a different approach to education.  The alliance was founded by Tyler Nottberg, President of U.S. Engineering. Companies including Edward Jones, Hallmark, Kansas City Power and Light, and UMB Financial Corporation are sponsors.

“This group is research, data driven,” Vice President Erin Brower said. “We’re looking at what investment shows the highest rate of return.”

What the group has found is that the highest rate of return is in early childhood education, from programs like parents as teachers through first grade. The Alliance supports increases to preschool funding proposed as a part of Gov. Jay Nixon’s 2015 budget. Eventually, they would like every public school to have a free preschool program.

Here’s the types of numbers the Alliance is looking at. Economist James Heckman states that the state would save $7 to $12 for every dollar invested into early childhood education. The savings come from those children not having to repeat grades and not growing into adults that would need welfare and enter the corrections system.

Not receiving proper education in preschool age causes a chain reaction. Ready Nation reports, another source the Alliance for Childhood Education uses, that disadvantaged children can start as much as 18 months behind their kindergarten peers. This creates a situation where a majority of fourth graders and eighth graders in the U.S. do not meet math and reading proficiency standards.

“That’s when you have 90 percent of brain development,” Brower said of a child’s early years. “We want our tax dollars to pay for this.”

While the focus of the Alliance for Childhood Education has been on early education, the group is looking at the entire pipeline. School funding is an issue but they also seek more transparency in the education process, which may include different standards for educators.

ACE is researching partnerships with social groups aimed at combating poverty since it is closely linked with education, or a lack thereof.