Friday, January 29, 2016

Paying for Universal Preschool in SC NOT Cost-effective

How do you tell a liberal from a conservative or, for that matter, a Democrat from a Republican? The first judges on intent; the second, on results.
"In the 2014–2015 year, South Carolina made one of the largest investments in universal pre-K, second only to California. As a result, 17 additional school districts will offer public early childhood care and education. In addition, due to a push by the child-welfare organization SCAN, it seems probable that universal pre-K will be a major issue in the 2016 election."--Noodle
But why, you ask? 

Who doesn't hope that all children, rich and poor, entering kindergarten are equally ready for school? No one suggests that universal preschool should exist for ease of babysitting for working parents. Instead, the intent is to narrow the "achievement gap."

The preschool idea has been around since the beginnings of the War on Poverty with Head Start. It's yet another example of how results can be costly and wrong but still pushed as effective. In fact, as the Washington Post points out, "President Obama has repeatedly called on Congress to create universal preschool for low-income 4-year-olds, saying it is the best and most cost-effective way to narrow the achievement gap between poor children and their more affluent peers."

The problem is that the results of the last 50 years do not support this noble intent.

Now the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) headed by Mark Shriver, son of Sargent Shriver, founder of the discredited Head Start program [the family business?] is lobbying all state governments to bankroll a failed idea. And South Carolina fell for it, no doubt with the best of intent. You have to wonder, though: do we really want to be in the same ballpark with California?

Despite some claims to the contrary, Head Start has shown its benefits last through the third grade. Period. Without a large-scale study to show that universal preschool would work, politicians are plunging willy-nilly on a feel-good bandwagon. 

Universal preschool will become another "throw money at the schools" program that doesn't work and takes away funds from other ideas that might.
"And here is the problem. Given the scientific uncertainty, advocates cannot answer the following question: Will increased federal spending on early childhood education programs improve children’s futures? The evidence says probably not. 
"By creating the false illusion that we are helping children in need, programs like Head Start and Early Head Start do a tremendous disservice by wasting both the resources and the political will for effective action. There may, in fact, be ways we can help children in need. But we won’t find them if we believe, despite the evidence, that the right programs are already in place."--David Muhlhausen

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