Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, June 20, 2014

Federal Pre-K: A Tired Illusion

Should the federal government dump millions of dollars into pre-kindergarten programs? In a recent essay at Real Clear politics, professor Peter Salins suggested that implementing two years of pre-kindergarten for “disadvantaged” children could erase future educational disparities. But is shipping three and four-year olds off to preschool really a “magic bullet”? The evidence used to support these claims comes primarily from two pilot programs back in the 1960s and 1970s. Each program followed only 70 children, and in one study, every one of the children had a stay-at-home mother. President Barack Obama, in his 2013 State of the Union address, claimed that every dollar invested in early education saves more than 7 dollars. The Perry Preschool program of the 1960s is supposed to have proved this, but that program cost more than $11,000 per child per year. It was staffed only by highly-trained instructors and has never been replicated. The Perry Project is not scientific and not worth quoting.

So, would extending formal education by 2 years before kindergarten offer any solutions to “disadvantaged” children? Considering the fact that government has done such a poor job with the 12 years they already have, perhaps they should confine their reform projects to those years before they request more.

Head Start and Early Head Start are examples of federal preschool programs, but neither one has brought the success they claimed to offer. Both common sense and experience confirm that the best way to reduce “educational disparities” is to offer young children what they need the most – loving fathers and mothers in stables homes. We don’t need to spend millions on national experiments to teach us this. Outsourcing the raising of their three and four-year-olds to a bloated government is not what American parents want for their children.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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