Education (even kindergarten) matters

July 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm 4 comments

Fascinating new economic analysis from the NYTimes. The impact of having a good kindergarten class and teacher fades in junior high — then returns as an adult.  In fact, it can be shown to have direct impact on how much the adults earn!  Education, even kindergarten, matters.

Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.

All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.

via Economic Scene – Study Rethinks Importance of Kindergarten Teachers –

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Alfred Thompson  |  July 28, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    One interesting point is that the income difference based on grades leaving school were not correlated as closely to earnings as that kindergarten experience was. Apparently anyway. It suggests that grades are not as good a predictor of future success as many would like it to be. Of course many of us realize that some things one can and should learn in school are not easily tested for, at least not objectively, and we value them anyway. This is not the way society seems to be going with high stakes tests and NCLB.

  • 2. weilunion  |  July 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    As a former kindergarten teacher for two yers, I certainly agree that early childhood experiences, not limited but including kindergarten, has a large impact on the ability of a child to work collaboratively, critically think and develop a passion for living and learning.

    The problem is what Alfred, the post above indicates. One’s ability to profit from any instituton in this society sis based on class and racial background. We simply do not wish to admit we live in a class society where the quality of one’s education is influenced if not determined by the material conditions of their lives.

    There is little doubt that in America, with poverty among millions of our nation’s children, access to good schools and good teachers is based in part on where one lives. Schools are supported by property taxes and thus the wealthier the district, the better chances of having a good kindergarten experience.

    However, Alfred is also right about the failure of inauthentic corporate tests to tell us anything about intelligence. When will se begin to lace authentic learnig to authentic assessment?

    The answer is when we stop the privatization and commodification of education and begin to resuscitate the Dewey-Lippmann debates in the 1930’s.

    I wrote a large piece in on this need. Until we define what an ‘educated person’ is then we will continue to allow numeroloigsts to determine our children’s future as credit agencies usee credit reports to limit our choices in housing, loans, banking and the like.

    This, of course, will only happen when we assure education is accessible to all, public and not private, fully funded based on need, not where one lives and when we get rid of such private policies like Race to the Top and the billionaire’s like Gates, Walton and others.

    Educators need to work within their unions and join with unions in the private sector if they are to assure the safety of our kids from predators that wish to turn education into a product, tested like meat.

    Sure, kindergarten will definitely effect one’s later life — thus, if the experience is one of poverty and no access to parental support, then they will arrive to class with an empty stomach and return with confusion, not a full head.

    Inequality and capitalism is the problem. There can be no early or late childhood or adult experience until we understand and mobilize against a sytem that puts profit before people.

    Please see my work at

    • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  July 28, 2010 at 1:55 pm

      While I agree with the assertion that social class of one’s parents is a huge predictor of educational success, I don’t think that changing the way schools are funded is going to help. You said,
      “Schools are supported by property taxes and thus the wealthier the district, the better chances of having a good kindergarten experience.” But California moved away from local funding of schools decades ago, with the result that all public schools got worse. Trying to get rid of the “achievement gap” by making all the public schools as bad as the worst ones doesn’t help, because the rich set up private schools and the gap in educational opportunities gets bigger instead of smaller.

      You also seemed to imply that private schools should be abolished, so that parents have no choice but to send their kids to public schools, no matter how bad those schools become.

  • 4. weilunion  |  July 28, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hi, gasstationwithoutbumps and thanks for writing.

    What I am saying is that as long as we continue to manufacture and unsustainable society where inequality pervades as free markets; as long as we decimate our public institutions and commons for privatization; as long as we acceed to two percent of the people in this country commanding and holding the same networth as the bottom 90%; as long a racism raises its perverbial head, leading young minority youth into prisons, foster homes, juvenile delinquent facilities and other penal forms of containment; as long as we do not see that this system we call capitalism, market fundametalism is destroying families, stealing pensions, monetary value and leaving a broke, busted and derecainated citizenry we can kiss education goodbye. People will not have food or shelter, let alone education.

    As to private schools — they are all part of a privatized system. They reflect the fact that some make it in the corridors of power and others do not. they reflect exactly what I mention above. But even more insidious, the movement is towards private vouchers which those with more means will use to subsidize the education of their children while those contained in urban dungeons we call schools will forced to feast on the ortz of a society that is now a financial oligarchy.

    The question at issue is clear: Do we wish to educate all children regardless of race, socio-economics, culture, special needs or language? If we do, then it will be important to draft policies that allow this to happen.

    Private schools, vouchers, charters and the rest of the privatization nonsense is not simply evidence of Wall Streets grabbing of 5.6% of the GDP which is education, it is about assuring only certain children receive that wonderful childhood experience.

    Go to any public school in any urban area and look at the devastation that more than 30 years of neglect has left our schools in. As taxes are removed, within the neo-liberal argument for voodoo economics, from the very rich who now receive a great deal of their wealth in capital gains taxes (15% taxation, while you and I pay close to fifty with state taxes) and as regulations are lifted to close public schools and experiment on children with a 20 year charter school gimmick which evidence from the CREDO report states still fails to provide any meaningful change, then schools will continue to reflect the economic structure, the material conditions of life that make inequality a permanent fixture of the American landscape.

    There is little doubt that schools in suburban areas in California are more segregated, have better public schools, can pass bonds any time of the year to fund their schools, have ‘bake sales’ that are often auctions for the schools, while within say, Detroit urban schools, Wal Mart lunches and preys on students for ‘training’.

    You can read more abut Wal Mart and their attempt to take over four high schools in Detroit and also about the neo-liberal economics that is destroying childhood and making a mockery out of kindergarten at:

    Simply go to Author Posts and find my name: Danny Weil You will find more than 6 dozen articles on everything from charter schools, vouchers, segregation in schools, testing, privatization of education and the like. Or, feel free to go to Amazon and find the seven books I have written — especially Vouchers and the Privatization of Education (2000) as well as Charter Schools 2nd edition, Greyhouse publishing (over 1000 pages, an encyclopedia).

    We have a world to change!




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