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Expert: Educating Kids from Birth Gives Economic Benefits
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Experts say buying into early childhood education results in a better workforce. As MPB's Mark Rigsby reports, advocates in Mississippi are learning the importance of starting the learning process as early as possible.

Professor Craig Ramey researches early childhood education at Virginia Tech University. He says waiting until preschool to start teaching kids could leave them behind.

"It's very difficult to compensate for experiences that children have missed. We're better able to provide those experiences in a preventive sense, than we are to deal with them as a treatment."

Craig and his wife Sharon, also a Virginia Tech professor, have done decades of research on the topic.
They've tracked the development of more than 150,000 children. Craig Ramey says getting a child on the right learning path shortly after birth can better prepare that child. Thus, resulting in greater productivity as an adult in the workforce, and a 7-to-1 return on investment dollars.

"We know that this high-quality early education reduces the likelihood of these children to be retained in grade, reduces the likelihood of needing special education, results in greater workforce participation, and moving into the middle class."

The Rameys spoke to a group of state educators in Jackson this week. David Rock is Dean of the School of Education at The University of Mississippi. He says the state needs to put more emphasis on early childhood education.

"I think it's too late to stay where we are, to be honest. I think we need to make changes. We can't overshadow the fact that if we will make the contribution now, today, what it can do for us down the road 20 or 30 years."

Ramey says the most important thing parents can do to encourage a child's development is having the child exposed to good language and conversation.