LANSING — State Representatives Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) and Theresa Abed (D-Grand Ledge), members of the House Education Committee, were disappointed after hearing the Mackinac Center’s presentation regarding Michigan’s Great Start early education program. The center argued against the effectiveness of the program, while Democrats stood up for increased educational opportunities for Michigan children.

“Giving our children all the resources they need to lead a successful life starts with education, and high-quality preschool should be available to all families that choose it,” Brinks said. “The benefits are overwhelmingly positive. The disinvestment from Michigan education has to stop.”

Although the center’s agenda is tremendously pro-corporation, business leaders at all levels have endorsed early education. In a New York Times opinion, former corporate executives John E. Pepper Jr. and James M. Zimmerman said, “Universally available prekindergarten is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.”

“Business owners know that one of the most effective job-creation investments we can make is education. Studies have found that every one dollar invested in early childhood education nets a return of seven dollars,” Lamonte said. “Businesses want a well-educated workforce, and the best educational outcomes result from participation in preschool.”

The Republican chairwoman who invited the Mackinac Center to make its presentation even runs counter to Gov. Rick Snyder’s stated policy objective. After his budget proposal, the governor said he was “excited about” a “large investment” in early childhood education. During his State of the State address, Snyder said, “I think it is important we make a major budget commitment to get as many kids as possible” into Great Start.

“Politicians from both sides of the aisle can agree that early childhood education is a worthy investment, but some still want to cater to a special-interest agenda,” Abed said. “Our priority should be giving children a world-class education so that they can be successful later in their education career.”