The value of early childhood education is typically measured by school readiness: reading level, language skills and mathematical ability. Other studies have linked the programs to lower crime rates and an increase in home ownership.
The 2013 ERIE conference, which will be held July 29 at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will approach the pre-K debate from an economist’s perspective, with one basic question: Is there a measurable economic benefit to these programs?
Jim Kurre, associate professor of economics at Penn State Behrend and director of the Economic Research Institute of Erie, believes there is.
“There is a huge economic payoff,” he said. “It requires a long-term view – it takes some time for these kids to age through the system – but the research is solid.”
He sees a benefit even for businesses, and for families without young children. The conference’s keynote speaker, Timothy Bartik, a senior economist for the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, will discuss that during his talk.
The conference also will include presentations by Nick Scott Jr., vice president of Scott Enterprises and a member of the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission; and Marlene D. Mosco, regional president of PNC Financial Services Group, which in 2004 launched the “Grow Up Great” campaign, a $350 million bilingual initiative for children.
The program will begin at 8 a.m. in the Samuel P. “Pat” Black III Conference Center at Penn State Behrend. Registration costs $149, or $75 for government agencies and nonprofits. Any group that registers two people will receive free admission for a third.
Registration includes breakfast, lunch and all conference materials, including a copy of “The ERIE Guide to the Erie Economy.” For more details, or to register, go to www.eriedata.org or call 814-898-7149.