“If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men.” - Maria Montessori
What we are doing at the Humboldt Park Montessori School is an investment. When the problems of crime and the economy are screaming at us from every news headline, our little school is hoping to tackle these problems at their very foundation. We believe that each child carries with him or her the potential to do something great in the world. We believe that there comes a point in a child’s life where that potential can be stifled or even crushed, and there is only a very small window of opportunity.
Thousands of beautiful, intelligent little children live in our neighborhood. These children can build the businesses that will enrich the Humboldt Park economy. They can become the policy makers that will shape Humboldt Park’s future. Alternatively, to be honest, many of them can become the next gang members and drug dealers on our corners.
Any day now, $900 million could be cut from Head Start. Our nation is allowing itself to be distracted away from the children, the most important individuals for the future of our survival and success.
Research shows that low-income students who receive early childhood education grow up to be adults who:
have higher IQs
commit fewer crimes
stay off welfare
go to college
do not have children during adolescence
own their own homes
pay more taxes
If you simply want to look at the bottom line, a study by MIT says it all: “Failing to invest sufficiently in quality early care and education shortchanges taxpayers because the return on investment is greater than many other economic development options” (Early Childhood Education for All: A Wise Investment). When we choose, as members of society, to make an investment in early childhood education, we are actually doing ourselves a big favor. Many studies have analyzed the financial returns on funds given to preschools for low-income students, and the results are that we are getting back 10-18 times the amount we are putting in. When we spend money on colored pencils and little chairs, the little folks sitting in those chairs are growing up to become happy, successful, contributing members of society, even if the odds are stacked against them.
It is in those little chairs that our children work so diligently to grow their minds and become the world-changers of tomorrow. Investing in them is a smart choice even if you are only looking at the numbers, but it is an even better choice when you are looking into their eyes and seeing that you are providing the hope for their futures.