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Editorial: Pay me now, or pay me later

You can pay me now … or you can pay me later.

That line came from an advertisement for an oil filter manufacturer in the 1970s. But the same phrase can easily be applied to the situation facing Mathews right now in instituting an early childhood education program in the county.

The “pay-me-now” costs are fairly self-explanatory—the salary of a teacher and teacher assistant for about a dozen 4-year-olds. And while the Kids First Foundation has offered to come up with the start-up costs for a similar classroom for 3-year-olds, the county would have to pick up 100 percent of the costs after the first three years.

The “pay-me-later” costs, however, may be a little more esoteric and harder to pin down. They include the costs associated with teen pregnancy, with increased incarceration rates, increased drug use, of young men and women being unable to get and hold down well-paying jobs, of the continued cycle of generational poverty.

Giving these child...

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