Pre-k turns 20: “Money going to program is well spent.”

Georgia’s popular lottery-funded pre-k program is 20 this year. AJC staff writer Nancy Badertscher is looking for parents and teachers in metro Atlanta who would be willing to share their thoughts and be quoted on whether they believe the program is making children more ready for school or not. She can be reached at

In conjunction with that theme, here’s an essay on the 20th anniversary by John Harbin, a partner with the law firm King & Spalding.

By John Harbin

All around the state this month, leaders can be found in Georgia’s pre-K classrooms reading a favorite children’s book to 4-year-olds sitting cross-legged on the floor. It’s more than a photo opportunity for the local newspaper. It’s a strong show of support for what is a proven fact: Early childhood education has a profoundly positive impact on our state’s economic health.

Twenty years ago, a statewide pre-kindergarten program was created that touched 750 at-risk 4-year-olds and their families. Within three years the program expanded to all 4-year-olds in the state, and today, our state invests more than $300 million to serve nearly 84,000 children enrolled in Pre-K programs.

It’s money well spent. Numerous studies of the long-term outcomes of participants in early childhood programs have established beyond question the benefits to the individuals and to society. One of the best-known studies from the mid-1960s, The Perry Preschool Project, tracked 3 and 4-year-olds through age 40. The study showed impressive returns in the form of increased earnings, reduced special education and welfare costs, increased income taxes, and the really big savings, reduced crime.

As a business leader in Georgia, that gets my attention.

Experts say that children who lack the necessary literacy and language skills by the third grade simply don’t catch up. These are the children teachers predict will drop out of high school, likely ending up asunwed parents, on the streets or in jail. Unfortunately, these predictions are fairly accurate.

So if we can help more children start kindergarten with the foundation for learning they need, we’ll also be helping fourth grade achievement, eighth grade achievement, high school graduation rates, college acceptance and completion and, ultimately, the workforce and our economy.

Early childhood education is a topic that has caught the attention of some of the top economists in the country, including Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.

“The benefits of early childhood programs are not just short-term in nature,” Bernanke said at a national conference in July. “Careful studies demonstrate that early interventions can have a positive effect on young children … that lasts well into adulthood.” Bernanke went on to say that children who attend a high-quality preschool program are, as adults, “more economically successful — for example, more likely to own their own homes — than nonparticipants.”

The business community and military leaders are in agreement on the importance of early childhood education. Mission: Readiness, an organization of senior level, retired military personnel committed to smart investments in our children, strongly supports early childhood education. It states in a recent report that 75 percent of young Americans ages 17-24 are unable to join the military, primarily because they are poorly educated, physically unfit, or involved in crime. The report says leaders across the country should act now to ramp up both the quantity and quality of early education programs because “increased investments in high-quality early education are essential for our national security.”

As the chairman of the board of Voices for Georgia’s Children, a nonprofit child policy and advocacy organization, I work closely with people who have made it their life mission to support the education of our children, particularly those up to age five. Georgia’s top governmental leaders are committed to supporting Georgia’s pre-K programs and early childhood education, and they are proving that this week. Thank you Gov. Nathan Deal and other state leaders for taking the time to be in our pre-K classrooms. It’s not only an investment in our children, it’s an investment in Georgia’s future.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

59 comments Add your comment

Truth in Moderation

October 5th, 2012
12:53 pm

He won’t get my vote, but I like the quote….
“He’ll get rid of regulations on Wall Street — but he’s going to crack down on Sesame Street.”

Looks like Mitt is putting pressure on lottery Pre-k 4 holdouts.


October 5th, 2012
1:08 pm

P.S. Not to mention that many of the Founding Fathers were Deists who did not believe in the Trinity or divine nature of Jesus: among them, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Truth in Moderation

October 5th, 2012
1:43 pm

“Maureen has Archives of all posts along with a “Search this blog” slot.”

Please, quit ranting and post your quotes. You are correct in noting that Ph.D. means “piled higher and deeper”. Everyone is an expert, including myself. That nullifies your “expert” opinion.

Now back to the topic of this blog, the one you are desperately trying to “delphi”.
The New World order aim (as I have documented above) is to remove parental influence of children and replace it with State control. This has already been tried under Mao, Stalin, and Hitler, so my assertions have historic precedent. Pre-K 4 lottery fits right in with this Globalist plan. It’s the usual bait and switch. Always pitched originally as “for the poor children”, the trap is enlarged to suck in higher socioeconomic classes, such as Mary Ann’s. They get used to the “free” service and overcommit their income by depending on the handout. When the non-tax funds “run out”, these same citizens will begrudgingly agree to write the cost PERMANENTLY into the tax code. Next, the compulsory schooling law will be changed to lower the mandatory school age to 3 or 4 years old. As these new taxes further burden middle class couples, they will be forced into 2 paycheck economics, and their choice to have a stay-at-home parent will be removed. Once the State has a pre-school monopoly, the quality will rapidly deteriorate.

Truth in Moderation

October 5th, 2012
2:25 pm

‘P.S. Not to mention that many of the Founding Fathers were Deists who did not believe in the Trinity or divine nature of Jesus: among them, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.”

Speaking of Founding Fathers, you neglected to mention Arthur Middleton, signer of the Declaration of Independence from South Carolina. He literally is MY founding father. I am his direct descendant.

Here are some of his quotes:
“There is a rising generation in this country who do not know God because of a general decay of religion.”

“The Church’s note must be a supernatural note which distinguishes incarnation from immanence, redemption from evolution, the Kingdom of God from mere spiritual process.”

“We are to introduce our people into the life of the Church, which is salvation, that they may grasp its meaning, its contents and purpose, to taste and see how good the Lord is.”

“Many people experience Gethsemane moments.”

“As priests uphold their people in prayer, so their people are to uphold them with prayer and love, for he cannot work without his people.”

“Priesthood is not a convenient, historically conditioned form of Church organisation, but is rooted in the Incarnation, in the priesthood and mission of Christ himself.”

“The priest is Christ’s slave, and Christ himself took the form of a slave and became obedient to death. So the priest in serving human needs lives a Godward life, possessed by God and witnessing that only when lives are utterly possessed by God do they find their true freedom.”

Truth in Moderation

October 5th, 2012
2:56 pm


“Letter from Benjamin Franklin to George Whitefield”

“FOR my own part, when I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favors, but as paying debts. In my travels, and, since my settlement, I have received much kindness from men, to whom I shall never have any opportunity of making the least direct return; and numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. Those kindnesses from men, I can therefore only return on their fellow men, and I can only show my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator. You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree, and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such rewards. He that, for giving a draft of water to a thirsty person, should expect to be paid with a good plantation, would be modest in his demands, compared with those who think they deserve heaven for the little good they do on earth. Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God’s goodness than our merit; how much more such happiness of heaven!….The worship of God is a duty; the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself on being watered and putting forth leaves, though it never produced any fruit…”

Read the rest at

Truth in Moderation

October 5th, 2012
3:12 pm

George Whitfield: Sermon 24, What Think Ye of Christ?
Based on Matthew 22:42, “What think ye of Christ?”

George Whitefield led the “Great Awakening” in America, a Christian revival. He was friends with Ben Franklin.


October 5th, 2012
5:24 pm

Your quotation from Franklin sounds exactly like that of a Deist, who believed that while there is a benevolent God who created the universe, this deity is unitary and not divided into a Father, a Son, and a Holy Ghost. Deists were NOT Christians.

George Whitfield was friends with a lot of people. That doesn’t mean that those people all believed exactly as he did. Benjamin Franklin himself was very sociable with all sorts of people, including Christians. Also with many atheists, such as Thomas Paine.

Truth in Moderation

October 5th, 2012
5:52 pm

Not really.
“Remember that the definition of a deist is someone who believes that God created the earth and universe and then has had nothing more to do with His creation. He doesn’t answer prayer, He does not interfere with the affairs of men or nations, He is a silent and non-participatory God. Like Washington and Jefferson, Franklin was not a deist and did believe in a God that answered prayer and directed the lives of people and nations. He frequently referred to Scriptural history and verses in many of this discourses.”

I don’t know if Franklin was saved, but he knew all about the Biblical Jesus, at least from Whitefield (read his sermon), he believed God was active in the affairs of men and answered prayer, and he himself used prayer to communicate with Him. This is not Deism.
He certainly would have been familiar with Isaiah 33:22 KJV “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” His personal beliefs would not have been in conflict with this.

Ole Guy

October 6th, 2012
2:17 pm

Moderation, I believe you’ve struck upon a somewhat meaningful yardstick for the true effectiveness of this program. You have referenced your kids as having benefited from the program by preping them for “the structure and challenge of the typical school day”. Now I haven’t been anywhere near a classroom in some time, however, based on my recollections, and the general quality of today’s educational products…a purely subjective observation sprinkled with some objective results of general college performance…I am not too sure if today’s kids are all that prepared for the structure and challenge of the typical school day.

While firearms and other weapons on campus were, at one period of time, a virtual unknown factor, they seem to be, uephamistically-speaking, an almost standard part of the students’ “equipment list”. Recent reports of mass student rebellion on campus seem to completely dispel any notion of student preparedness for the…structure and challenge of the typical school day…

While these events may be viewed as isolated anomalies within an otherwise “structured environment”, common sense would appear to provide vivid reminders that control of student behavior IS on a slippery slope.

Public shootings, among early 20-somethings, should provide some indication of the “effectiveness” of the educational system in preparing youth to handle the challenges of the typical day.

Despite the many subjective views on the matter, I remain convinced that the pre-k program, while well-intentioned, only serves to provide false hopes that something of any benefit is derived. I believe one response suggested the tracking of the program’s early students, now in their early-to-mid 20s. This would be an excellent idea; one which could surely be achieved…IF the program’s supporters are truly interested in guaging their hopes as reality…or false hope. Then again, perhaps they do not want to know.