Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Three out of four young adults in Michigan lack the basic skills and qualifications to serve in the military

Investing more in high-quality early education programs is essential to our national security, two retired generals from Michigan said today. They released a report at the Kinder Care at St. Johns Lutheran Church showing that military service is now out of reach for three out of four young adults in Michigan and called on the Governor and state legislature to increase early education funding by $140 million.

“The Department of Defense estimates that 75 percent of young Americans are unable to serve in the military for three primary reasons: they have not graduated from high school, they are physically unfit, or they have a criminal record,” said General Henderson. “Because Michigan’s problems with weight are similar to the national average and the state’s problems with education are worse than the national average, it is likely that at least three out of four young adults in Michigan cannot join the military.”

According to data cited in the report released today:

• 25 percent of young people in Michigan do not graduate on time from high school.

• Among high school graduates in Michigan, 1 in 5 who try to join the military score too low on the military’s entrance exam to be able to serve.

• According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria, which are broader than the military’s, 41 percent of young adults in Michigan are overweight or obese, up from 38 percent thirteen years ago.

• One in every 27 adults in Michigan was in jail, in prison, on probation or on parole in 2007. Even more have a criminal record that would keep them from serving.

The new report, entitled Michigan Youth: Ready, Willing but Unable to Serve, documents how federal and state investments in early childhood education can benefit military readiness by increasing the pool of young Americans eligible to join the military.

The report highlights research findings that show the long-term effects of high-quality early learning programs. Three long-term studies of early education programs show impressive education outcomes:

• The children who participated in the Perry Preschool project in Ypsilanti, Michigan, were 44 percent more likely to graduate from high school.

• Children not served by the Abecedarian project were 75 percent more likely to be held back in school.

• The participants in the Chicago Child-Parent Centers were 29 percent more likely to have graduated from high school.

Michigan launched its preschool program, Great Start Readiness Program, in 1985, and it has been operating long enough to see long-term strong results. Children who attended the program were:

• a third less likely than similar children to be held back in school; and

• a quarter less likely to not graduate on time from high school.

In addition, two long-term studies on early education have strong results on preventing crime and there is even new evidence showing how early learning programs can help reduce America’s rising rates of childhood obesity.

High-quality early education also saves money. The costs of failure can be very high. For example, each child who grows up to drop out, use drugs and become a career criminal costs society, on average, $2.5 million.

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