- George Prentice
- While the state has not moved to fund pre-K, the city of Boise is well underway with its second year of a pilot program.
Idaho remains one of only six states without state-funded preschool and, according to education analysts, that means the Gem State's youngest students are missing out. According to the annual Kids Count report issued in January, 64 percent of Idaho fourth-graders were not proficient in reading and 66 percent of Idaho eighth-graders were not proficient in math.
On top of that, a new paper authored by University of Chicago economics professor and Nobel laureate James Heckman points to a growing body of research on the importance of high quality early education programs—particularly for disadvantaged children.
In his study, titled "The Life-Cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program," Heckman and his research team found programs designed for children from birth to age 5 "deliver a 13 percent per-child, per-year return on investment through reduced crime and health costs, and better outcomes in education, civic engagement and employment."
"You get about 13 percent per annum. Much higher than the annual return on equities in the U.S. stock market post-Second World War through the 2008 meltdown," Heckman told NPR. "This is a huge, huge investment return. It competes favorably with almost any other public program.