Universal Preschool Promises Like Harold Hill's Shiny New Trombones
I was never really big into the whole preschool thing. My parents decided not to enroll me anywhere before kindergarten. So maybe I’m biased a little bit, but the piece “Does Universal Preschool Improve Learning? Lessons from Georgia and Oklahoma” by Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation really shoots holes in many of the arguments for expanding early childhood education.
Apparently, the idea that universal preschool gives kids an accelerated start into improved learning just doesn’t bear out on any large scale. Especially when you look at the Sooner State (and I think you ought to look at it sooner rather than later):
More than a decade after offering students universal preschool, neither Oklahoma nor Georgia has shown impressive progress in students’ academic achievement, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In fact, in Oklahoma, fourth-grade reading test scores have declined since 1998 when the state first implemented universal preschool.
Say what? Well, I guess you shouldn’t be too surprised — if you’ve been following what I say for any length of time. Like several months ago, when I pointed out what the brilliant Krista Kafer said about the overblown promises of government preschool pushers. They may not be trying to sell us shiny trombones and gold-striped uniforms for a new boys’ band, like the famous fictional Professor Harold Hill, but the purveyors of universal preschool utopia will be at least as hard-pressed to deliver the goods.
If you find this topic really interesting, you may want to check out the new book Reroute the Preschool Juggernaut by Checker Finn.