Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pre-K Not O-K with Experts

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

President Obama may have taken his plan on the road, but there are still plenty of empty seats on the federal preschool bandwagon. People across the political spectrum are skeptical of an idea whose modest results come with a not-so-modest price tag. "In all," NRO tallied up, "taxpayers already spend an estimated $25 billion on some 45 federal day-care and pre-school programs annually." And that's on top of the $10 billion low-income families already receive for child care.

Most experts think the President would just be replicating the failure of states like Georgia and Oklahoma, where leaders have implemented the early education the President wants--but without positive results to show for it. After pouring hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars down the preschool drain, the Heritage Foundation explains that in Oklahoma, kids' reading scores actually dropped after universal Pre-K was implemented. And Head Start, the closest thing to the President's "zero-to-five" education plan, was a $181 billion bomb by even the government's standards.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, scientific evidence doesn't seem to factor much into this administration's decision-making (see embryonic stem cells). The Left is more interested in getting children away from their parents and into a government-controlled environment than it is about real success. Otherwise, the concerns of leading scholars like Russ Whitehurst--who called any statistical benefits of Pre-K education "thin empirical gruel"--might matter more.

As the President's own HHS spelled out, programs like Head Start are educational fools' gold. The advantages typically evaporate by the first grade--whereas the benefits of the intact family on a child's well-being last a lifetime. What kids need are parents--not preschool. That's why FRC developed the hugely popular child tax credit to make it easier for parents to raise children at home. Based on the proposal the left-wing Center for American Progress released last week, Obama's Pre-K plan would cost $10,000 per child ($98,400,000,000 over 10 years)--which FRC's Dr. Henry Potrykus points out, has less influence on a child's well-being than an institution that costs taxpayers nothing: the intact family. What our four-year-olds need more than anything is a loving, secure home with a married mom and dad who love each other. Access to education is important, but not as important as access to strong, stable families.