Pioneer Larry Schweinhart

Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Schweinhart is an early childhood program researcher and speaker throughout the U.S. and around the world. Larry served as president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Michigan, from 2003 to 2013 and then became president emeritus. He directed the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, the landmark study establishing the lasting value of high-quality preschool programs through age 40. He also directed the longitudinal evaluation of the Michigan School Readiness Program for 4-year olds at risk of school failures and the HighScope Preschool Curriculum Comparison Study, which shows the lasting value of child-initiated learning activities. Larry received his doctorate in education from Indiana University in 1975, received a B.A. in Philosophy from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in 1969, and has taught elementary school and college courses.

Larry’s career can be traced back to his work with the HighScope Perry Preschool Project and advocating its findings through ongoing conversation. Although funding for early childhood education has increased in the past 30 years Larry explains how states continue to spend only a fraction of the cost per child in grade school on early education, and as a result “cheap preschool doesn’t work very well.” With increased accountability, Larry believes the purpose of early childhood education needs to shift back to improving child development. As he defines it, overall child development includes a child physical and social-emotional development, not just academic achievement which is often the only factor to what constitutes a successful program today. Larry describes the future of early education as one that well-coordination to improve well-resourced systematic variation.

“To get what we got, you gotta do what we did.”

“Children don’t change that much from age four to age six or age five. It’s only adults who change and the institutions that we create for children.”

“I think maybe we should never talk about the cost of a program unless we talk about the cost per child of the program simultaneously because one is as important as the other.”