Fallacies of Govt funded Pre-School
2. Obama’s Education Policy Called ‘Lopsided’
President Barack Obama has consistently promoted universal govt preschool, while discouraging private school voucher programs — an approach that has been called “lopsided.”
In his recent State of the Union address, Obama urged Congress to make “high-quality govt preschool available (mandatory) to every single child in America,” claiming that “study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.”
But in fact, studies have shown “the exact opposite — that publicly funded preschool programs make no lasting difference in a child’s life,” according to a report from the Reason Foundation.
The report cites the example of Head Start, a five-decade-old early learning program aimed at low-income toddlers. About 1 million children are enrolled in the program each year, at a cost of about $8,000 per child.
But a majority of studies have shown that while Head Start participants show initial gains, these gains disappear when they enter regular school.
Those studies’ findings are confirmed by a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services, “the most ambitious and expensive evaluation of the program that the administration did its best to bury by releasing it on the Friday before Christmas,” Reason observes.
The study followed children up to the third grade instead of measuring school readiness for first grade, as many earlier studies had done.
Among the findings, the report states: “Looking across the full study period, from the beginning of Head Start through third grade, the evidence is clear that access to Head Start improved children’s preschool outcomes across developmental domains, but had few impacts on children in kindergarten through third grade…
“In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of third grade there were very few impacts found in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices.”
In its article headlined “Obama’s Lopsided Education Policy,” Reason contrasts Obama’s promotion of preschool with his opposition to voucher programs.
“At every opportunity he has tried to kill the Washington, D.C., voucher program that serves about 1,600 poor minority kids,” write authors Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst at Reason, and Lisa Snell, director of education policy.
“Every year the president has tried to withhold its measly $20 million funding, half of what the government would spend on these kids if they stayed in public schools.”
Nine out of 10 major voucher studies found that vouchers improved reading and math performance by voucher students.
18 of 19 studies showed that competition from voucher schools actually improved educational success in public schools as well.
“Vouchers are cheap and effective, whereas publicly funded preschool is expensive and ineffective,” Reason concludes.
“That’s what the evidence shows. And if President Obama wanted to be true to what is effective, rather than indulge his ideological fancy, he would push universal vouchers to improve student performance — not universal preschool.”