Jul 28, 2017
ELW

The Pulse – Congress Ignores Obvious Problems with State-Run Preschool at Hearing

 

Dr. Effrem’s latest article at the National Pulse discusses a recent U.S. House education subcommittee hearing on preschool that except for one courageous congressman, Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-VA), completely failed to mention the utter failure of Head Start and other government preschool programs. Here is an excerpt:

The Failure of Head Start and State-Run Preschool

The 2012 follow-up study that followed the same children as in the 2010 study through third grade instead of stopping at first grade also found no benefits of Head Start after the preschool year(s):

Looking across the full study period, from the beginning of Head Start through 3rd 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 3rd grade.

The 2010 and 2012 studies are just two examples of literally hundreds of government studies showing the failure and/or harm of Head Start. This sampling dates back to 1985 and includes a government review of 600 studies from 1997 that could not find any benefit of the program, saying:

The body of research on current Head Start is insufficient to draw conclusions about the impact of the national program.

This of course does not even begin to discuss the numerous studies showing ineffectiveness, fade-out of beneficial effects, and actual academic and emotional harm of preschool programs other than Head Start. And despite what Rep. Polis says, quality of the Head Start program makes no difference.  The 2014 study of Head Start examined the effect of quality on program outcomes and found:

We find little evidence that quality matters to impacts of Head Start using the available quality measures from the study across two age cohorts, three quality dimensions, five outcomes, and several years. The one exception is that for 3-year-old program entrants low exposure quality, defined as less exposure to academic activities during Head Start participation, produces better behavioral impacts in the short-run than more exposure to academic activities. Even so, there is no indication that either high quality Head Start or low quality Head Start in any dimension leads to program impacts lasting into third grade. [Emphasis added]

It is also important to remember that concept of “quality preschool” leading to better outcomes is only a myth:

The hearing witness from Minnesota, Ericca Maas, represents the organization that has been pushing that state’s scholarship program based on the ratings of the QRIS for several years. To receive a 3- or 4-star rating in Minnesota system, required for parents to use state scholarship funds with that provider, the provider must use Minnesota’s early childhood content standards that until this year discussed gender identity and environmentalism with children as young as three. The new version still discusses the environment and adds in family structure diversity under the still subjective and controversial social emotional category.

It is interesting to note that even though Minnesota’s statist model to impose these controversial standards on private, religious, and family childcare programs is lauded by pre-K proponents as a model for the feds to fund and for states to emulate, when asked during the hearing if the program has closed achievement gaps, Maas admitted unequivocally that it had not (1:17:08).

As Congress works on the budget, it is important to remind your representative and senators about the abject failure of government pre-K and home visiting programs and in the current $20 trillion debt, increasing the funding for Head Start, as is currently being proposed in the House appropriations bill makes very little sense.

Read the full article here.

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