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Law Enforcement Leaders Release Research Report, Call for Universal Early Education in California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 8, 2014

Contact: Meghan Moroney, (415) 450-1913, [email protected]

SAN BERNARDINO—District Attorney Mike Ramos, Sheriff John McMahon and Police Chief Jarrod Burguan visited a transitional kindergarten classroom at Lankershim Elementary School this morning to release a research report showing that high-quality early education can cut crime and save California money in the long run. They echoed law enforcement leaders throughout the state who are calling for universal high-quality early education, through the expansion of California’s voluntary transitional kindergarten program, beginning with the 2014-15 budget.

The report, Early Education Cuts Crime and Saves Money, highlights the impact that inadequate access to high-quality early education has on kindergarten readiness, the high school dropout rate and crime in California. The report shows that kids who drop out of high school, become addicted to drugs and commit frequent crimes cost communities an average of $2.5 million over their lifetimes.

“Early education is essential if we want to offer all young Californians a chance at success in school and in life,” said Sheriff McMahon. “If we invest wisely now, we can prevent crime and violence from happening later.”

Law enforcement officials are working hard to make public safety realignment a success in California, and have cited the need for increased investments on the front end to prevent kids from becoming criminals and requiring incarceration in the long run.  According to the report, students who attended a high-quality early education program in Chicago, which has served over 100,000 children, were 20 percent less likely to be incarcerated by age 24 than similar non-participating students.

“If we want public safety realignment to work in California, we must invest in what we know works,” commented District Attorney Ramos. “Early education has the potential to save money, reduce incarceration and increase graduation rates. This new research report indicates that we could save an average of $22,000 for every disadvantaged student reached.”

Statewide, only 41 percent of eligible low-income preschoolers are enrolled in state and federal early education programs, and only one quarter of all four-year-olds are eligible for the state’s transitional kindergarten program. Access is even worse in San Bernardino County where only 32 percent of eligible preschoolers are currently enrolled in state and federal preschool programs. There are also 451 violent crimes committed per 100,000 residents in San Bernardino County.

“Too many children are falling through the cracks. We must invest early and substantially in evidence-based solutions,” said Police Chief Burguan. “Time and time again, high-quality early education has been shown to reduce the need for special education, produce more high school graduates, and cut crime and incarceration rates.”

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a membership-based, anti-crime organization comprised of nearly 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and district attorneys nationwide, and 400 in California, estimates that by increasing its investment in early education, California could decrease its prison population by 13,000 each year, save $1.1 billion annually in corrections costs and produce an additional 260,000 high school graduates over ten years.

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