NCLR Highlights Urgent Need for Investment in Quality Early Childhood Education

August 23 2012


Julian Teixeira

202) 776-1812

Links between quality early learning and long-term educational success for Latino students discussed during press briefing

Washington, D.C.—Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) held a telephonic press briefing to release new research by the organization highlighting best practices in early childhood education programs that are promoting positive academic and social outcomes for young Latino children. NCLR is releasing this research at a time when children across the country are heading back to school and the presidential campaigns are addressing the nation’s most challenging issues. NCLR Education and Children’s Policy Project Senior Policy Analyst Erika Beltrán and Associate Director Liany Elba Arroyo were joined by Rich Neimand, President and Creative Director of Neimand Collaborative, to discuss the importance of closing the early learning gap as well as the widely-recognized research by Nobel Prize–winning University of Chicago Economics Professor James Heckman on the economic payoffs of investing in early childhood education.

Heckman’s renowned research has proven that high-quality early learning experiences lead to improved health, economic, and social outcomes for individuals and for society. Moreover, his research shows that investments in early development have economic returns of up to 10 percent and are critical to keep America globally competitive.

Both NCLR’s and Heckman’s findings have broad implications for America’s Latino students—a significant and increasing percentage of today’s school-aged population. Today, Latinos represent over one of every five children in U.S. schools; however, by 2035 they will constitute one of every four.

“Latino children often enter the school system with a disadvantage, which is why early learning programs are even more critical for this community,” noted Beltrán. “All of the prominent research in the field demonstrates that a quality, positive preschool educational experience contributes to narrowing the school readiness gap and provides long-lasting benefits.”

Experts discussed the need for policymakers to make critical investments in high-quality early childhood education, take a more comprehensive approach to improving the quality of programs, and promote best practices that meet the demands of an increasingly diverse student population.

“The bottom line is that without an effective early childhood development strategy, America has a deficit strategy, not a growth strategy,” stated Neimand. “Quality early childhood development is the key to upward mobility. Without it, investments made later on in education, health, higher education, and job training cannot and will not be maximized for all Americans.”

To access NCLR issue briefs on early childhood education, please click here. For more information regarding the work of Professor James Heckman, visit

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.


Issues: Early Childhood Education, Education, Education Policy Team
Geography:California, Far West, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Texas