By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Nicholas Kristof, in The New York Times, suggests many of us don’t expect Oklahoma to be a model of social policy.

But with every 4-year-old having access to free high quality kindergarten, and younger kids from some disadvantaged families getting access to full-day year-round nursery school, and home visits coaching parents on reading and talking to their kids, this major intervention can break the cycle of poverty.

Many smaller studies have been reported how such programs pay for themselves; reducing dropouts, crime and drugs, preschools now or prisons later. But this is a whole state initiative…integrating literacy and social skills for those whose home environment may be lacking.

Research from Georgetown University has found sharp gains in pre-reading, prewriting, arithmetic and social skills, outweighing the costs by a ratio of 3 to 1.

President Obama, in his State of the Union message, called for a national early childhood program. Oklahoma is showing the way.

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