Change the first five years and you change everything…
It is well known that learning begins at birth. Sadly, for many babies born in New Mexico, the achievement gap begins shortly thereafter. Among the 50 states, New Mexico consistently ranks at the bottom of the list in terms of the overall health and educational performance of its children. In order to improve these results, our approach to, and support for, early childhood education, health and development must change.
Science has shown that an achievement gap in language can begin as early as 18 months of age. Children who don’t receive adequate early childhood education consistently under-perform on school coursework and standardized tests, graduate high school at lower rates, and are less likely to attend college.
To truly maximize the taxpayer’s investment in public education, we can no longer conceptualize it as a K-12 system. We must recognize the importance and value of the first five years as an integral, foundational component of public education – and ensure that all related policy and funding decisions are made with that early childhood education emphasis in mind.
New Mexico has $10 billion to transform education
Luckily for New Mexico, we have the second largest Land Grant Permanent Fund in the county – with over $10 billion! The fund currently supports a portion of the education budget for students from kindergarten to college. Invest In Kids Now proposes an annual distribution increase of 1.5 percent from the Land Grant Fund that will be shared between K-12 and early education, funding a continuum of learning beginning at birth. . . Only voters
Only voters can decide whether to allow our state to invest a portion of these funds in early childhood education, health and development for children from birth to age five.
Modifying the Land Grant Permanent Fund distribution to include early education will not increase taxes, will not take money from K-12, and will not dip into the fund; in fact, the fund will continue to grow.
The return on investment is priceless
Every dollar invested in early childhood education returns at least $10. This return on investment benefits all New Mexicans by improving the quality of life.
Early learning can save $80 million a year on New Mexico’s corrections costs:
- Studies show quality early education cuts in half the likelihood that a child will become a career offender.
- Today, one out of 90 New Mexicans is in jail - this rate is higher than the national average.
- New Mexico currently spends $35,000 a year to keep an inmate in jail but only $250 per child for early education. We are spending in the wrong place.
- New Mexico now spends $283 million for adult and juvenile corrections yet only $35 million on early childhood programs.