CEOs’ help needed to tackle problem of high school dropouts from new perspective: early childhood

In just a few weeks Parents as Teachers will co-host a Missouri Business Leader Summit. The purpose of this  invitation-only summit (funded by the Partnership for America’s Economic Success and managed in part by The Pew Charitable Trusts) is to share information about the importance of early childhood programs for developing employees who will be competitive in the 21st Century workplace and to engage these high-level business leaders in advocating for additional investments in proven strategies that encourage the successful development of young children.

Business leaders are already making tough choices in a tough economy. Support for early childhood can be a  hard-sell in part because today’s preschoolers are at least 18 years removed from the workplace. But a new report from Northeastern University just put a new urgency on the need for early childhood investment.

Using census and other government data, researchers put some real costs to the problem of high school drop outs.

Over their working lives, the average high school dropout will have a negative net fiscal contribution to society of nearly -$5,200 while the average high school graduate generates a positive lifetime net fiscal contribution of $287,000. The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate.”

How do you get kids to graduate high school? Hire more counselors? Set up special learning centers? Lengthen the school year? Draw on community volunteers and mentors?

Getting kids to graduate doesn’t start in high school; it starts between birth and 5 when brains are growing and when parents are learning or refining their parenting skills. Parents as Teachers does that. Not only is Parents as Teachers getting kids ready to learn, but studies show that Parents as Teachers parents are more supportive and engaged in their children’s learning. That’s how you get kids to graduate high school!

Starting early works. And on November 16 a select group of Missouri Business Leaders will hear why their support is so vital not only to Missouri’s children but to the success of their own businesses.