Podcast From Economic Think Tank Makes Business Case for Preschool (Education Week)

By Christina Samuels

The Washington-based Committee for Economic Development has long supported early-childhood education as a driver of economic growth. Now the organization has added podcasting to its efforts to enlist the business community in supporting high-quality child care and preschool for young children. 

The five-part podcast Conversations on Advancing Early Learning offers the perspective of business leaders, including J.B. Pritzker, the co-founder of the private-equity firm The Pritzker Group, and Tom Lamb, the senior vice president of government affairs for PNC Financial Services Group. 

The 10- to 25-minute podcasts offer real-life examples of how business can take the lead in promoting early-childhood education. For example, PNC has invested $350 million in a program called Grow Up Great, which provides enrichment and learning opportunities for children from birth through age 5.

Pritzker and Goldman Sachs have partnered to pay for the expansion of preschool in a Utah school district, with the idea that early investment will save the district in later costs for special education and other services. Part of that savings comes back to the firms as financial returns, though researchers have raised questions about whether the Utah district's pay-for-success model is using the right metrics to measure how successful its 4-year-olds will be as they progress through school.

The podcast series also features interviews with child-development experts.

The Committee for Economic Development conducts research, writes reports, and testifies before Congress on different economic issues, said Cindy Cisneros, the organization's vice president of education programs, adding that podcasting is just another way to expand its reach.

 

"We're really trying to distill and benefit from the insights and recommendations from these leaders on the national scene," Cisneros said. "We really believe there could never be enough business leaders talking about this."