Since 1965 the federal government has invested more than $166 billion in Head Start. Yet a January report from the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed once again that the program does not offer disadvantaged students any lasting educational advantage.

The study randomly assessed more than 5,000 preschoolers. It found that by first grade not one of more than 114 academic and behavioral tests showed a reliable, statistically significant positive effect from participating in Head Start.

President Barack Obama promised to show fiscal restraint and to reward “evidence-based” education programs. But his fiscal year 2011 budget, released after the study had come out, increases Head Start funding by $989 million. Obama also proposed a new $9.3 billion Early Learning Challenge Grant program to encourage states to invest in government-run universal preschool.