A recent article about statewide pre-kindergarten expansion is great news for parents who want to ensure their kids develop the social-emotional, pre-literacy and pre-math skills they will need for long-term academic success.

It is also great news to see so many law enforcement leaders who have been strong advocates for increasing investments in early childhood programs for the sake of future public safety. We know this, based on the fact that the early years are the most significant period for brain development. That is why quality child care and preschool in nurturing, stimulating environments make such an impact on school readiness.

Numerous studies show the long-term impacts of quality preschool. At-risk 4-year-olds who attended Maine’s Public Preschool Program scored higher on reading and math assessments in the third and fourth grade than kids who didn’t participate. In New Jersey, kids who participated in quality preschool were 31 percent less likely to be placed in special education. And in Michigan, kids who had the opportunity to attend quality preschool were held back 51 percent less often.

Those outcomes are important for public safety because success in school has a tremendous impact on avoiding the criminal justice system. Right now, six in 10 state prison inmates don’t have a high school diploma. Which leads us to a simple choice — Maine’s lawmakers can keep spending $167 million a year on corrections, or proceed with this proposed investment to give kids the support they need to become well-educated, productive citizens.

Eric Samson, Androscoggin County Sheriff, Auburn

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