The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Reparations should include funding for high-quality early education

People line up to speak during a reparations task force meeting at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco on April 13. (Janie Har/AP)
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Regarding the June 2 news article “In report on racism, Calif. task force demands reparations”:

The California report on racism reveals that appalling governmental and societal policies resulted in a culture and cycle of ignorance (lack of education, not lack of intelligence) and poverty — and reparations are necessary to break that cycle. The task force’s vice chair got it exactly right when he said that programmatic solutions in areas such as education and economics would do the job well. The implication is that direct compensation would be ineffectually sprinkled among families. Instead, reparations should include funding for high-quality early education and adult parenting and life-skills classes.

Research reveals that for children — particularly those from low-income backgrounds — to benefit from preschool, it must be of high quality. Opponents note that children without preschool education often reach the academic level of those with a preschool education by grade three. However, many children do not see lasting benefits because early education programs are often underfunded. Importantly, despite equal academic achievements, those who attended high-quality preschool have better life outcomes in terms of higher earning potential, lower crime activity, less teenage pregnancy and so on.

Additionally, adults should be offered parenting and life-skills classes. Child care and transportation should be provided when necessary — anything to make the classes accessible, meaningful and able to effectively interrupt the persisting spiral of failure.

The expense would be justified by the long-term societal rewards.

Leonard Kuentz, Gaithersburg