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Numerous studies on Head Start, the federal pre-K program for poor kids, show that its reading and math gains virtually evaporate by fourth grade. And the latest evidence from Oklahoma and Georgia, two states that implemented universal pre-K in the 1990s, only confirms this.
Oklahoma's high-school graduation rates have dropped since it embraced UPK and Georgia's remain stagnant. The average reading score of Oklahoma's fourth graders on the NAEP -- the national report card -- dropped four points between 1998 and 2011.
Georgia just reached the national average. The NAEP reading gap between black and white children in Oklahoma was 22 points in 1992. In 2011? The same. Georgia had a 28-point spread in 1992. In 2011? Twenty-three points.
How should President Barack Obama, who had promised evidence-based policy, have responded? By renouncing his commitment to UPK. What did he do? Jetted to Georgia and declared its program a national model.
It's not that conservatives don't have ideological fixations that are impervious to science. However, they don't pretend to don the mantle of science. Liberals do.
This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.