Recent research has shown that early childhood environment can have an enormous impact on a person’s development. Examples:
· Since 1970 the average height of young adults in many European countries has gone up by an inch or more, largely due to improvements in health and nutrition. In Italy, Spain and Portugal average young adult height has increased by 2 inches within a 30 year period.
· A recent study estimates that having a good teacher (as opposed to an average teacher) in kindergarten can increase your income as an adult by $1,000 per year. This means that in one year of work, a good kindergarten teacher is providing benefits to society worth at least $300,000, and quite likely worth more than $1 million.
· The elimination of leaded gasoline in the 1970s, 80s and 90s radically reduced the lead exposure of young children in the United States. This is believed to have helped improve average IQ scores and to have been a major cause of the reduction in crime in the 1990s.
This class will focus on what these promising stories tell us about the potential for improvement in Kentucky: What are the benefits of improved health and education for children under 5? How do the young children of Kentucky measure up to children across the United States? What is being done in Kentucky to improve early childhood health and education? What more can be done?