Early childhood puts a very real squeeze on middle-income families — as well as low-income families — and has driven many into debt. Not only would it help more kids thrive, if we extended preschool to all in Salem, the average family with preschool-aged children would go from a budget of -$6,106, to +$5,563. Many parents would go back to work. All told, it would likely add millions of dollars into the local economy.
To most (us included), the reason we should invest in public preschool is obvious: It helps every child succeed. It not only raises achievement but saves us more money than it costs. But let’s not overlook the impact this would have for young families’ budgets and our local economy. Perhaps we should ask, “Why wouldn’t Salem push for preschool?”
As state lawmakers hammer out Massachusetts budget — the draft of which arrived this week — we think they should invest in preschool and dramatically expand public programs.
Nathan Proctor is state director of Massachusetts Fair Share, a statewide nonprofit advocacy group. Arthur MacEwan is professor emeritus of economics and senior research fellow in the Center for Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston.