Jan. 11: Investing in early care and education

Jan. 11: Investing in early care and education

The CEO of Entergy New Orleans says Louisiana is slowly making gains in K-12 education, but continues to undermine its public schools by failing to make adequate investments in young children.

The CEO of Entergy New Orleans says Louisiana is slowly making gains in K-12 education, but continues to undermine its public schools by failing to make adequate investments in young children. Writing for Nola.com/The Times-Picayune, Charles Rice notes that inadequate early childhood education puts children at greater risk for repeating grades, needing remedial instruction and being incarcerated later in life.


There is a critical piece lacking in our public school reform matrix, underscored recently by a report from the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. During the past eight years, state funding to reduce the tuition charged to working parents for quality early care and education for kids from birth through age 4 was cut by almost 70 percent. Thus, the yearly average cost for quality childcare in our state is almost as much as the cost of annual public college tuition. That is a struggle for working parents, and I see and hear this from the many men and women working in this community every day. When you can’t reasonably address your infant and toddler’s most basic need for quality care, you can’t focus on work, arrive on time or stay at the job as required. It is a defeating cycle of stressful choices.


Kristen Butcher at Brookings echoes Rice’s sentiment,  likening investments in low-income families to public investments in roads and infrastructure.


If, however, transfers to low-income families that affect children fundamentally change the productive capacity of the next generation, then these transfers should be viewed as investments as well. These investments, in human capital, may pay off for society just as investments in physical capital can. There is mounting and dramatic evidence that transfers to low-income families early in children’s lives manifest later in life.


Check out the full report here.


The high cost of ‘bail or jail’
Innocent until proven guilty” is not always a reality for poor people accused of committing crimes, and certainly not for the people who are jailed in lieu of paying bail. A new report by the Vera Institute of Justice details the financial burden on New Orleans residents – and city government – from locking up people simply because they can’t pay the fines associated with their alleged misdeeds. FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik reports:


In 2015, New Orleans spent roughly $6.4 million detaining people who were jailed only because they couldn’t pay bills imposed upon them by the city’s criminal-justice system, according to the report released Tuesday by the Vera Institute of Justice, which advocates for reducing incarceration rates. The city collected just $4.5 million from criminal defendants, most of whom are black and many of whom are poor. So the system cost the city a net total of $1.9 million — about 0.3 percent of its overall budget. The report could add fuel to a growing outcry against local legal systems around the country that are funded in large part by costs imposed on residents — particularly those who are black and poor and including people who aren’t ultimately convicted of a crime.

Repeal and delay?

It’s become increasingly clear that GOP leaders in Congress – and in the incoming administration – have no idea how to fulfill their promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace the landmark 2010 health-care law with something better. While President-elect Donald Trump now says he thinks a replacement plan should quickly follow a repeal vote, there is no consensus on what that may look like. As the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Robert Pear report:


Mr. Trump appeared to be unclear both about the timing of already scheduled votes in Congress and about the difficulty of his demand — a repeal vote “probably some time next week” and a replacement “very quickly or simultaneously, very shortly thereafter.” But he was clear on one point: Plans by congressional Republicans to repeal the health law now, then take years to create and implement a replacement law are unacceptable to the incoming president.


TOPS name for sale

Battered by budget cuts to higher education in recent years, the Board of Regents has come up with a novel approach to raising money for the popular TOPS college scholarship program: Sell naming rights to corporations. The public can weigh in on the options until Feb. 6 to the Board of Regents. Danielle Dreilinger for NOLA.com has more.


And coming to a campus near you might be the Rouses Market TOPS Scholarship, the Cajun Industries TOPS Scholarship or the TOPS Scholarship Opportunity Award, powered by Entergy. That is if state officials agree to a Regents staff recommendation to sell naming rights for the cash-strapped program to increase private funding. From about two-thirds of campus budgets six years ago, the Legislature now funds less than 30 percent. Instead, lawmakers poured money into TOPS. But this year they decided they could not afford it, and most students using the scholarship are shouldering about 60 percent of the burden this semester.


Number of the Day

$380- The daily cost to people jailed before trial — not counting the harm to job prospects, loss of benefits and housing, and many other factors — 12 times the cost to the city of jailing them. (Source: FiveThirtyEight)