A group of 3, 4 and 5-year-olds at the learning center were among the more than 10,000 pre-kindergarten students in Philadelphia. It seems pre-school may be a critical factor in education and crime prevention.
"Students engaged in successful programs don't drop out," says Donna Piekarski, from the Philadelphia School District.
According to a 40-year study, pre-K children are less likely to become high school drop outs. And drop outs are 3 1/2 times more likely to be arrested and 8 times more likely to be incarcerated than graduates. Nearly 70-percent of the nation's inmates have no high school diploma.
The 'Fight Crime: Invest in Kids' organization has issued a report that suggests increasing the graduation rate could prevent murders: A 10-percent graduation rate hike could result in 150 fewer murders across the state and 75 fewer in Philadelphia.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey is a 'fight crime' member. He says, "If we want to have a lasting impact on crime we have got to reach our people at the earliest possible stage."
Experts say what happens for those who attend pre-K is simple. They are engaged and socialized with the kinds of things that empower them as they grow. They are armed with the tools needed to handle tough choices in school and on the streets as they mature.
The 'Fight Crime: Invest in Kids' organization applauds state support for pre-K so far and encourages funding for more programs.
Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham says, "What we'll pay in quality early education pre k will save us hundreds of millions on the other end."
Officials estimate several thousand children cannot attend public or private pre-kindergarten because there aren't enough slots available.
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