MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new report released by Fight Crime Invest in Kids suggests to invest in early childhood education because it has a positive impact on public safety.
Statistics show more than half of inmates in prison do not have a high school diploma and this group wants to change those statistics.
FOX13 shows how Porter Leath will give children a head start to success.
Local law enforcement leaders gathered at Porter Leath Early Childhood Academy to show their support for high quality early childhood education.
"Youth that have participated in high-quality early childhood education are much less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system,” said Joshua Spaulding, Fight Crime Invest in Kids National Director.
Research gathered by the group details several studies that show at-risk kids who have access to exceptional pre-school programs are more likely to succeed in school.
“There is a strong connection between kids having a quality start and crime,” Spaulding said.
In fact, statistics show six out of ten prison inmates do not have a high school diploma.
"I often visit some of our young men and women in 201 Poplar or juvenile court and when you really pay attention many of them are functionally illiterate,” said Michael Rallings, MPD Director.
Facilities like Porter Leath give children the head start they need before they even enter kindergarten.
City leaders said education is a key way to steer children away from a life of crime and toward success.
"We again want to put our young people on a totally different trajectory,” Rallings said. “We want them to be successful. Want to remove any barrier for them to be successful.”
The report adds it starts with the teacher.
Urging state legislators to pay pre-school teachers more competitive wages to recruit the best.
Right now, they average close to $20,000 less per year than teachers serving kindergarten through 12 grade.
“One way to escape poverty is true education,” Rallings said. “So we have to start early.”