Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, on January 29 joined officials from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department, Saugus Union School District in touring a local preschool to see first-hand how early education is preparing children for the future and benefiting society as a whole.
Smyth joined Lt. Brenda Cambra of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department, Saugus Union School District Superintendent Judy Fish, Saugus School Board Members Judy Umeck and Doug Bryce, Los Angeles Universal Preschool (LAUP) CEO Gary Mangiofico and others in touring Mountainview Fun for Fours Preschool, a LAUP-funded preschool, as part of efforts to raise awareness about the benefits of early education.
“As a father of two young children and another one on the way, I understand the value of early education and how preschools play an important role in reducing crime and preparing children for elementary school and beyond,” Smyth said. “I found this tour to be most useful in that it raised my awareness about how early education helps prepare children for the future. I appreciated the opportunity to see that firsthand, as I witnessed the wonderful interaction between the teachers and the preschoolers.”
The tour and a roundtable discussion that followed were organized by the nonprofit anti-crime organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids California and LAUP, which funds preschools throughout Los Angeles County, including in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Lt. Cambra noted research shows that high-quality early education is one of the best crime-prevention tools available to communities, such as Santa Clarita. “A well-known fact supported by research tells us that children who attend a high-quality preschool program get a better start in life, perform better in school and are more likely to grow up and live productive, crime-free lives,” Lt. Cambra said.
“The crime-prevention benefits of preschool have major implications for our communities, as public safety routinely ranks among the top priorities listed by the public, including the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley,” Lt. Cambra said.
Fish, the Saugus Union School District Superintendent, referred to a 2005 statewide poll of California public school kindergarten teachers that showed nine out of 10 California kindergarten teachers say children who receive a year’s worth of high-quality preschool education are better prepared for kindergarten than those who do not.
“There’s little doubt that a high-quality preschool education benefits children, helps close the achievement gap and gets our kids ready to learn and succeed in school and in life,” she said. “Furthermore, preschool not only benefits the child, but also is a support and benefit to the whole family in getting their child off to a good start.”
Mangiofico, the CEO of LAUP, said that “according to the RAND Corporation, for every dollar that is invested in high-quality preschool, the public saves $2.62 in crime prevention, special education needs and other social costs. Other prominent studies show an even greater rate-of-return to our society,” he added.
“The message is clear,” Mangiofico said. “High-quality preschool programs are a wise public investment, and one of our most effective weapons against crime. In fact, it costs about $49,000 a year to incarcerate a young person. That would cover the annual enrollment of eight to 10 children in a high-quality preschool. Despite that, the number of children enrolled in California preschools remains well below the national average. That is why we urge policymakers across California to place increased access to high-quality preschool high on their agenda.”
To enroll your four-year-old child in a LAUP-funded preschool in the Santa Clarita Valley, or to find out how you can help support the preschool cause, please call 1-866-581-5287 or visit www.laup.net .
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