To Pay the Price for the Youth of Michigan: Education Now or Incarceration Later?

           A report entitled, “Cost Savings of School Readiness Per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit Michigan” was released today to an audience of municipal officials, teachers, parents, and concerned citizens by the faculty members of the authoring foundation: the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation. The focus of the report is on the financial improvements made possible by preemptive fiscal and social support of our early youth in the Michigan educational system.

A statistic was presented that stated for every additional child who arrives in early education already prepared to learn saves upwards of $50,000 for taxpayers in Michigan, this figure is nearly doubled for children from Detroit.

The hope is that this and other objective data found in the report (which may be viewed in full at can be used as legal leverage in the future when it comes to legislative decisions relating to public investment in Michigan’s early education system.

The report also proposes that greater investment in education can effect and effectively cut costs in the varied government facets of: crime reduction, health care and other state/social programs that are often correlated with higher expenditures for impoverished populations. By extrapolating their findings, the foundation approximates an upwards of $50 million in savings for Michigan taxpayers with every 1% increase in early educational preparation for the estimated 150,000 kindergarteners in Michigan.

Already, progress has been made-two years ago Michigan officially became a “no-wait state” (a state that has expedited public funding for a certain cause, allowing quicker enactment of a policy) in regards to the social provision of preschool for at-risk children aged 4 and below. Plans for 2016 include: expanding the previous program and implementing new programs to further develop educational aptitude for children up to the third grade.

Of the many in attendance was Hamtramck Chief of Police Max Garbarino, who put his passion for the issue with the educational system bluntly: “The choice is simple: Pay for quality early education and care for Michigan’s kids now, or pay far more for the costs of crime in Michigan in the decades to come. We can continue with the status quo, which is leading too many people to failure in school, over dependence on welfare, involvement in crime, and incarceration – at a huge cost to Michigan taxpayers. Or, we can take a different course – leading more kids to success in school, high school graduation, and savings to taxpayers for years to come.”

Garbarino continued by saying, “These crucial outcomes you’ve heard about today – higher graduation rates, lower crime and incarceration rates, and lower costs to taxpayers – are why Michigan policymakers need to do everything possible to strengthen and expand access to high-quality early education and care programs in Detroit and Michigan. To make it happen we have to recognize that we are standing in the fork of a road, with an important choice ahead of us.”

Garbarino is one member of a group of public authority figures involved in the research of the study. Other members include: Wayne County Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon, Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie, Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko, and Commander Todd Bettison of the Detroit Police Department. The non-profit and anti-crime group entitled, “Fight Crime: Invest in Kids in Michigan” boasts a far-reaching comprisal of over 5000 law-enforcement officials, from fellow chiefs of police, to sheriffs, to DAs, prosecutors and perhaps most importantly- actual victims of crime.

Yet, a very common thread runs through the breadth of the organization: the ideal that education is the most powerful tool we have for the reform of impoverished communities predisposed to criminal activity.

Of the few statistics and measures mentioned in this brief article, there are countless more available in the full document (linked above in the second paragraph) it is also necessary to make clear the origin of these statistics. All research conducted herein, was conducted using official data obtained by the U.S. Census Bureau, Michigan Department of Education, and National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, among other certified and veritable sources. The Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation funded the “Cost Savings of School Readiness Per Additional At-Risk Child in Detroit and Michigan” study, was assisted by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation and endorsed by over 25 groups and organizations-a conclusive list of sponsors can be found at