Jon Stewart Thinks Katherine Mangu-Ward Is Wrong About Universal Preschool


Last night, The Daily Show did a segment about opponents of universal preschool, including a quick hit from yours truly at the 5:45 mark:

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I was part of a montage of people referencing the federal government's own assessment of the efficacy of Head Start (and this earlier version of the same study) the closest thing we have to a pilot program for universal preschool. The findings of the study are pretty freaking bleak:

In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children. 

Jon Stewart, who loves The Children, theorizes that we skeptics are looking at things backwards: The study demonstrates how much preschool rocks, he says—it's just that the rest of the public education system sucks so hard that it erases all traces of preschool gains. While that's not really what the (well-designed, well-respected) study shows, let's imagine for a second that he's right.

Which do you think is more likely?:

(a) We make preschool universal and that starts a cascade of awesomeness into the general public school system, or

(b) we graft a universal preschool entitlement onto the existing universal K-12 entitlement, and preschool starts to suck just as much as the rest of the system?

Call me a cynic, but I'm going with (b).

Jon Stewart also plays the "read the rest of the study" card, quoting passages about longer term gains from preschool. Actually, the government study doesn't actually offer insight on long term effects, since the kids in the cohort are only in third grade.

But it does have a quickie literature review embedded in it, which points to other, less robust studies. Those studies offer weaker evidence for possible "sleeper effects," in which gains disappear, but then reappear later in life in the form of higher rates of school completion, and other social and health benefits. That section boldly concludes that "research suggests that positive outcomes later in life are possible." 

Call me a kid-hating curmudgeon, but I'm not sure "possible" is a good enough foundation for hugely expensive universal entitlement.

Jon Stewart, I love you man. You are so funny, and—in this case anyway—so wrong.

Bonus: There's a hilarious interview with uber-physicist and man-about-town Neil DeGrasse Tyson at the end of the show. Come for the anti-preschool invective, stay for the Russian meteor jokes!

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  1. When do we start I.W.E., In-Womb Education?

    1. Oh, crap, I thought I was being original. Somebody already told me it’s already out there.

      1. What. The. Fuck.

        1. I read to my sperm every night. It’s the only way to get ahead.

      2. Didn’t watch anything which showed a pregnant woman with headphones of the womb, reading to the fetus, etc.?

    2. I’m sorry but that’s WAY too late to be effective.

      The government needs to build time machines so teachers can travel backward in time all the way back up the evolutionary chain to the first single cell organism that we are all descended from and start teaching it Algebra, Geometry and English literature.

  2. Neil DeGrasse Tyson killed Pluto, but Katherine Mangu-Ward is the monster? F*** you, Stewart!

    1. Fuck Pluto. It made a lousy planet.

      1. But it has a moon!

        1. That’s no moon

          1. That’s rich coming from a scruffy nerfherder!

    2. My eight year old gets upset that Pluto is no longer a planet. He says in all respects it is and as far as trans-Neptunian objects go it is the best candidate. He also thinks that Sedna should be declared the 10th planet and most likely has organic compounds in its composition a very well could have water ice and a molten active core.

      He says is goal in life is to invent a viable interstellar drive and would like to capture a planemo.

      Yeah he is homeschooled. Fuck pre-school!

  3. No, he’s not funny anymore.

    1. Entertaining to fools.

      1. Sad but true. Unfortunately there is an entire generation of Americans who get their news solely from his show.

    2. anymore?

      He never was.

      1. I remember thinking he was sort of funny when he took over the Daily Show. That was a long time ago so I could be mistaken.

        1. An easy mistake to make. Anyone seems funny after Craig Kilborn.

          1. That’s got to be a joke. If so, I’m not laughing. Craig Kilborn was great on the Late, Late Show. When he left I wasn’t sure they’d be able to find someone to fill his giant shoes until they got Craig Ferguson.

          2. Ok, the page acted like it posted my comment, but there’s nothing here. Here it is again:

            That’s got to be a joke. If so, I’m not laughing. Craig Kilborn was great on the Late, Late Show. When he left I wasn’t sure they’d be able to find someone to fill his giant shoes until they got Craig Ferguson.

            1. Great, NOW it shows up. Stupid squirrels.

  4. I turned it off cursing at the 5:30 mark last night.

    This stupid fucker thinks money comes from paperwork? Fill out a form and wealth is magically created? It isn’t money borrowed against my kids’ future taxes, given by a Federal bureaucrat with a ton of strings attached? It doesn’t undermine local control of schools and federalism in general?


    1. Well, yeah. Government creates value by printing money, and corporations steal that value by taking money in exchange for goods and services.
      As society receives goods and services from corporations in exchange for money, society becomes poorer.
      Liberals are morons.

  5. But Jon Stewart is sooooooooo hansum and funnneh. He must be right. You’re just a pseudo-intellectual hack afflicted by Right-Wing Stockholm Syndrome. Why do you hate your own uterus KMW?

    1. Plus, he isn’t serious, he is just a comedian. So all your criticisms about how he is full shit don’t matter.

  6. Well, he did kinda sorta halfway defend Rand Paul. Meh, that’s the best I can do. Fuck Stewart.

  7. Eff deGrasse Tyson. He tried to play my boy Pluto for a punk. No planet, my ass.

  8. HuffPo commenters frothing at the mouth about Paul’s filibuster:

    Oh the hypocrisy! Mr. Paul would you care to clarify your stance on the Civil Rights Act of the 60’s????

    I suspect the idea of a drone strike on American soil frightens the far right only because it’s most likely it will be a group of them holed up somewhere with AK47s and a rocket launcher trying to start a harebrained rebellion against the government over something like — oh, allowing a congress member to wear a hijab. Or subsidizing milk and dental care for inner city kids.

    uddenly the RightieWooWooCons and Baggers_are seeing drones accompanying all those bIack helicopters over their traiIer_parks.

    There are plenty of other examples, thousands really.

    This has really shown us the nature of partisan politics. And it’s fucking disgusting.

    1. Never read the comments MLG. That’s rule #1.

      1. He’d just be “libertarian guy” then though. No fun in that.

      2. My rule #1, don’t go to HuffPo.

    2. but this is who we as a nation are: self-indulgent pricks concerned only about our particular free pony. No one looks at policy ideas on their face anymore or considers an idea someone puts forth.

      Reaction is determimed solely by whether the proponent is Blue or Red. The Team toxin has become engrained in the body politic and it shows no sign of doing anything but creating new strains that will make it impervious to the soundest of logic and the best of evidence.

    3. Well of course drones are the new black helicopters.

      1. …seeing drones accompanying all those bIack helicopters over their traiIer_parks.

        Ever been to the DC area? More black helicopters flying around than you can shake a stick at. They aren’t patrolling the trailer parks.

        Just because I’m paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.

        1. They come to Chicago when Obama does.

    4. They are so butt hurt over this. He totally punctured their smugness. If Romney had won the election and Ron Wyden were doing this, they would be having orgasms. They live for this shit. They think they have a monopoly on righteous anger. How dare Paul get all uppity and pull a stunt like they would pull. How dare him.

    5. We knew what that nature was. And yes, it is fucking disgusting. Luckily I don’t associate with scum like this, but I almost want one of these fucks to be stupid enough to say shit like this to my face, so I can tear them a new asshole. Nothing that is said matters, only who said it and what TEAM they are perceived to be on. I honestly believe that we are at the point that most of these people would be 100% fine with concentration camps for the other TEAM, without hesitation. They’re that repulsive.

      1. They don’t need concentration camps. They will happily drone-strike all the militias and preppers and other OPPOSITE-TEAM members to oblivion, as indicated in many tweets and comments yesterday defending why not only did Rand suck, he was wrong about the program sucking too.

        1. Don’t worry. they will agree with Rand them moment a Republican takes control of it.

        2. (Sends Nikki ‘Sarah Connor’ Diamond to concentration camp for orderly disposal)

          1. Why me? Why does it want me?!?

            1. Because only you are slutty enough to bang time travelers. Save the future with your loose morals and receptive uterus!

            2. There was a KULTUR WAR. A few years from now, all this, this whole place, everything, it’s totally retarded. Just idiotic. There were survivors. Here, there. Nobody even knew who started it. It was the partisans, Nikki.

              1. You think you’re so creative. You don’t know what it’s like to really create something; to create a life; to feel it growing inside you. After banging time travelers.

  9. And this show is where most of the 18-35s get their news.

    It’s like getting all your cooking tips from CSPI, your ranching info from PETA, and you sex advice from the Pope.

    1. Sad but true.

    2. The Daily Show gets what, 1.5 million viewers or so? Even if all are in that demographic that is a small percentage of them.

  10. I had to “Unlike” NDT’s Facebook page because the political postings outstripped the number of physics postings.

    1. that has been the totally utilitrian value, and absolutely unintended consequence, of FB – people have free reign to be as stupid as they want, and I am just as free to unfriend them so as to not have to wallow in their special brand of stoopid.

      Some researcher out there has to be working on a study of the friendships lost because of FB postings, particularly the political ones.

      1. Pew and others have studied this; I expect there will be some serious academic research on it before much longer.

      2. I don’t see any political posts on FB anymore thanks to (suggested by some commenter here). All I see now, in lieu of politics, are pictures of pugs. But I had already dumped NDT by the time I found out about it.

        At leas Michio Kaku stays away from politics and sticks to his day job of physics.

        1. You have the one corner of the internet not controlled by Warty. All the rest of it is porn and kitties.

        2. I’m a big fan of Michio’s. I read a book of his on hyperspace in high school. He’s really good at taking the math and physics from a doctorate level down to an understandable level for the (admittedly physics oriented) lay person.

          1. Trashmonster?

    2. Yeah, his twitter account suffered a similar fate… Too bad, I like astronomy, but it was a bit too much ass-tronomy.

    3. What does NDT stand for?

      1. Neil DeGrasse Tyson

  11. No government program which teaches children to do as they’re told is unnecessary or ineffective.

  12. Stewart never met a government program that wasn’t absolutely required.

  13. Some researcher out there has to be working on a study of the friendships lost because of FB postings, particularly the political ones.

    There are people in real life I resolutely avoid because they have proven conclusively they are simply too fucking stupid to be allowed to speak to me.

  14. I find the whole idea of universal preschool rather disturbing. It seems like it should be obvious that being at home with a parent is far better. But how long until a parent who doesn’t send their kid to government pre-school is viewed with suspicion?

    1. But parents might not properly indoctrinate their children. And we can’t have that.

    2. Already, pretty much.

      I got to tell a cop to pound sand the other day when my kids and I were at the mall early on a “school day.”

      1. Please, please, PLEASE tell me that you’re joking.

        1. Not at all.

          He started with “It’s a little early for Spring Break, isn’t it” and it went downhill from there.

      2. On a school day and you’re a man? Lucky you didn’t leave the mall in handcuffs.

    3. Aren’t parents who don’t send their kids to any preschool already viewed with suspicion to some extent? My mom is a kindergarten aide and it seems like (a) there are very few kids who don’t go to preschool and (b) they are always talking about the no-preschool kids as “problems.” Seems to be viewed as mild negligence at this point at best.

      1. I have a good friend who works for a private catholic school. It is in a very high end liberal neighborhood. In the kindergarten class there is a single black child who never went to pre-school and is by all accounts your typical loud, precotious five year old kid. But since she hasn’t been to pre school and is really outgoing and dare we say it, black, the other parents went to the principle asking she be removed from the class because she was disturbing their children’ education. Mind you this is kindergarten and this little girl is not profoundly disabled or violent or anything, just loud, a little hard to handle and in need of a bit of socializing. You know like going to school is supposed to provide.

        People fucking suck.

        1. Yeah, that’s the exact kind of situation I hear about. My mom’s school is the type where the parents are not that involved, but that’s basically the reaction of the teachers.

          1. They just want drones who will sit there and not make any problems. They don’t care if they learn anything or benefit from being there.

            1. It makes sense that drones would only want to handle other drones.


                It’s drone’s all the way down.

                1. HA! Cussing out the server squirrels works!

    4. people who home-school are viewed with suspicion in some quarters. No reason the ones who opt out of pre-school won’t be.

    5. I actually think its would be preferable to simply come right out and say: we are subsiding childcare.

      But its wrong to try to graft an “educational” component on top of it. We have 4-year-old kindergarten where I live. I have had to sit through parent teacher conference and discuss my sons scissor using skills. It was hard not to laugh. I am confident that by the time my kid is 18, he will be good enough at using scissors to get through life okay. (And it will have nothing to do with getting an early jump on those crucial scissor using skills.)

      The danger here is that we are pushing children into an “academic” environment that they are not ready for. Their first experience of education will be negative. I’d be interested in seeing a study about the long-term effects of a child’s perception of education when their first experience is constant failure. Are we raising a generation of children (particularly boys) that will hate school?

      Why can’t we leave 3- and 4-year-olds alone? Let them be children. Make mud pies. Catch bugs. Play with legos.

      TL;DR—Early childhood education is not only unnecessary it it counterproductive for a good number of children.

    6. I find the whole idea of universal preschool rather disturbing. It seems like it should be obvious that being at home with a parent is far better. But how long until a parent who doesn’t send their kid to government pre-school is viewed with suspicion?



  15. Smart people always get their news from unfunny comedians.

    1. Remember, Stewart is just a comedian, right up until we want him taken seriously.

      1. Try telling the youngsters who get all their news from Stewart that he’s just a comedian. They’re easily the most misinformed tools ever.

        1. Generation retard. I was at a course on privacy law earlier this week. The instructor was talking about how Watergate was the impetus for passing the Privacy Act in 1974. She said, and understand this is a class of lawyers and other associated professionals, that usually when she gives the class to people under 30, most of them do not know what Watergate was. I am not kidding. She wasn’t kidding. That is how broke our education system is and how stupid the coming generation is.

  16. Jon Stewart, I love you man. You are so funny…

    WTF? Has she even seen the show?

    1. That is what I don’t get. I understand that liberals like him and agree with him. But how they find him funny is beyond me. There is nothing funny about him.

      1. Stewart’s whole schtick is to be a condescending gas bag who cherry picks media bits to beclown “the ones who just don’t understand” and/or Team Red.

        He’s like the literal definition of Liberal junk food. He doesn’t need to be funny. He just needs to point it in the right direction.

    1. Naturally his pal Lindsay is right there agreeing with him. Fuck them.

    2. He’s just jealous that Rand is way more mavericky than McCain ever was.

      1. And that Rand can raise his arms over his head, too.

        1. A skill which McCain would have more use for than Rand, what with all his surrendering to statists.

    3. McCain argued that Paul’s warning that the Obama administration could target U.S. citizens in “cafes” on American soil, and his related “Jane Fonda” analogy, bring the debate into the “realm of the ridiculous.”

      What is ridiculous is the administration’s refusal to say that those types of things are out of the question. McCain really does love war.

    4. Lindsay Graham has a big sign with him that says “Number of Americans Killed in the US: by al-Qaeda – 2,958. by drones – 0.”

      1. Fuck Lindsey Graham, the shame of South Carolinians everywhere.

    5. “Calm down, Senator,” McCain said, in an apostrophe to Paul. “The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens.”

      Phew, I’m relieved. I mean, as long as it’s not random, I don’t know what the hell these people’s problem is.

    6. where is McAbel when you need him?

  17. Can we please dispense with the idea that Stewart is a comedian? Talking about research studies in detail is NOT comedy.

    1. But it is when he makes fun of the tea baggers with the study.

    2. You have to admit, he’s sure gotten a hell of a lot of mileage out of that double standard.

      And it’s not the people around here that need convincing of this.

      1. Just KMW.

        1. True, I didn’t fully RTFA.

    3. We can when he does.

  18. We were sending our kid to a private preschool here in Czechia. It was a pain in the ass to get to and it wasn’t cheap but it was so much better than the state sponsored preschool that we send him to now in our neighborhood. The state school isn’t awful, but it’s just, well extremely mediocre, not to mention the fact that it’s extremely Czech, lots of petty rules and procedures.

    The private school, started by two bright young women who’d just graduated from college, were optimistic and motivated, with high hopes and an entrepreneurial spirit, they went bankrupt because it is so difficult to compete with the free state schools. I imagine, this being the Czech Republic, that the bureaucracy was a bitch also.

  19. Who cares what he thinks? He’s just a comedian, remember?

    At least that’s how he responds when people criticize his positions on political issues.

    1. That’s what I get for coming in late AND not reading the comments.

  20. Why do KMW and Gillespie love Jon Stewart the leader of our modern Komsomol? Want to be seen as cool?

  21. NDT is an ASTROphysicist.

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