This week, early childhood education was a central topic of the Education Writers Associations’ 2015 National Seminar, held in Chicago, IL. This year’s theme was “Costs and Benefits: Covering the Economics of Education” and many of the sessions highlighted the economic benefit of investing in early childhood education programs.

During the conference, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan responded to questions from education reporters from across the country – and once again touted his strong support for increasing federal investments in early childhood programs. When asked about one of his biggest regrets as Education Secretary, he mentioned the lengthiness of reauthorization the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – which hit a major milestone last week in the U.S. Senate.

Ounce of Prevention Fund President Diana Rauner and Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman also led a session on the economic impact of early childhood education. In response to questions about the potential fadeout of early childhood programs, Heckman suggested “the benefits of preschool are not just about book smarts but lead to healthier outcomes,” while spotlighting other important long-term benefits to early childhood investments. Heckman also noted that priority for early learning investments and subsidies should be given to low-income students because those investments provide the greatest economic benefit.