Compton, Watts and other South Los Angeles communities are filled with families struggling with the growing income disparity that grips the country.
During the last 30 years the so-called “one percenters” of American income earners have had their incomes rocket upward. For the middle class and those at the bottom, statistics show tiny gains and even backsliding. Since 1988 and through 2012, the median California income rose an embarrassing 7 percent.
Rather than wallow in the inequity of all this, what can we do? As president of the Compton Unified School District, my answer is to empower all kids from the very outset of their young lives. We need universal pre-kindergarten to get kids on par with their peers, rather than have them show up for their first day of school already behind. That’s why I support the expansion of “transitional kindergarten” at the heart of the proposedKindergarten Readiness Act of 2014 and strongly encourage Gov. Jerry Brown to fund it.
Research has shown investing in universal preschool pays dividends for years to come. Most studies calculate long-term returns of up to $11 in economic benefits for every dollar invested in preschool programs. In Los Angeles County, the early childhood educational space contributes nearly $1.7 billion to the local economy through job creation alone. By educating children at an early age, they will be more likely to stay in school, develop career skills and effectively compete in the global marketplace.
Supporters of strong early education programs include Nobel Prize-winning economist James