Police Say Early Education Lowers Crime

HPD Chief Harold Hurtt and other law enforcement leaders are backing a bill in the Texas legislature that would give more money to school districts for preschool instruction. They say putting kids in the classroom early may save them from being in a jail cell later on. Bill Stamps has more.
image of HPD Chief Harold Hurtt and Officer William Harness at press conference"As a law enforcement leader, I have had the misfortune to see crimes committed that may have been prevented had we intervened far earlier in the lives of at risk kids."

Chief Harold Hurtt was at Woodson Elementary school lending his support to a bill being considered in the state legislature that provides more funding for preschool programs. With him was former HPD officer William Harness who now works with Conroe schools as an education officer.

"What I have found is there is a correlationĀ to lack of education, or education, and crime."

The bill going before lawmakers would give school districts the money to provide full day pre-kindergarten. It would require participating districts to limit the size of pre-k classes to 22 students and create a staff ratio of eleven to one. It would also require use of an approved pre-kindergarten curriculum.

"Never stand on a swivel chair." What would happen if we stand on a swivel chair?"

Officer William Harness read a book to some of the students, most of whom were five years old. Harness says helping at risk kids at younger ages is a no brainier.

"For years and years we've known it. But now research really shows that giving money and giving the opportunity for our young kids, at the young age to be able to learn, will keep them out of trouble down the road."

Chief Hurtt gave a statistic he believes sums up the whole case for preschool funding.

"We all know individuals if they do not graduate from high school they are doomed for failure in most cases. That's just a fact of life. Seventy percent of people in the Texas prison system did not complete high school."

Hurtt didn't mention it, but the main suspect in the Susana de Jesus kidnapping and murder...never graduated from high school.

Bill Stamps KUHF Houston public radio news.