Manchester voters made a wise choice to fund expanded pre-K education. Throughout my career, I have worked with a lot of kids and my experiences in law enforcement have taught me that high-quality early education is a smart investment in our children and communities.

Numerous studies show that youngsters who have high-quality early learning experiences are better prepared for kindergarten, more likely to succeed throughout school and, most important to me, much less likely to become involved in crime.

Michigan’s High Scope Perry Preschool Program found that 40 years after preschool, children left out of the high-quality program were 50 percent more likely to be arrested for violent crimes. The Chicago Child-Parent Centers program showed that children left out of that program were 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18. And new data tracking the outcomes for children in New Jersey’s public pre-K shows similar strong results when implemented statewide.

We also know that a child who drops out of school, uses drugs and becomes a career criminal can cost society $2.5 million.

Clearly Manchester is on the right track. I hope many other communities in Maine take future steps to improve and expand public pre-K education, too.

Fortunately, President Barack Obama has proposed a state-federal partnership that will provide federal funds to create, strengthen and expand early learning programs here and across the country.

That’s good for our kids when they are young, and it will lower crime tomorrow.

Randy Liberty

Sheriff, Kennebec County

Augusta

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