- North Carolina's Abecedarian Program (AP) conducted in the 1970s found significant gains for the preschoolers up to the age of 21. AP was an intensive program providing children with 40 hours/week of education and care for 50 weeks.
- Michigan's Perry Preschool Program (PPP) produced positive economic outcomes and low crime rates for participants. PPP consisted of 2 years of preschool, weekly parent-teacher home visits, and child-teacher ratios of 5-6:1.
Wonderful for those children! But neither AP nor PPP are like the universal PreK programs President Obama and his minions over at the U.S. Department of Education are pushing and are expected to cost $50B.
According to a Cato Institute report, studies inquiring into the value of preschool programs are not providing data to support the Administration's rhetoric. PreK studies generally indicate few gains for attendees and any gains that might have accrued to students in the PreK classes are very short-term in nature. For example:
- The Head Start Impact Study: Assessed 4.5k Head Start students through the 3rd grade. Although statistically significant (though modest) effects were found among students during the PreK year, the positive impact did not last beyond kindergarten.
- Tennessee's Voluntary Pre-K Program: The statistically significant gains that 3k Pre-K students achieved diminished greatly by the end of kindergarten and disappeared entirely by 1st grade. The only statistically significant difference between participants and nonparticipants at the end of the first grade favored the control group, not students who participated in the PreK program.
Other studies find longer-term benefits but oftentimes utilize flawed methodologies, including failing to take into account children that dropped out of the programs and therefore positively biased the results. For example:
- One highly-touted, allegedly high-quality Pre-K program (Tulsa, Oklahoma's) results did not account for the the high number of dropouts in the program.
Before falling for the rhetoric and wasting more public education $$$s "for the children," voters should demand honest research identifying whether federal spending and, in this instance, another $50B for universal PreK, warrants the expenditure.
Based soley on the evidence, it's pretty clear that universal PreK isn't "for the children." No, it's another form of crony socialism that represents nothing more than a big-time payoff to the public school teachers' unions and their bosses.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Cato Institute report, click on the following link:
"The Evidence on Universal Preschool."