Education

Hillary Clinton Wants More Kids to Get Nothing Out of Early Childhood Education

Useless pre-K programs give politicians the warm-fuzzies but don't do much to help students, new study says.

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Christopher Fitzgerald/Chris Fitzgerald/CandidatePhotos/Newscom

Overpaying for a low-quality product won't turn it into something better.

Outside of politics, this isn't a controversial notion. Plopping down $20,000 for a 10-year old Kia isn't going to turn that car into a brand new BMW. If you were repeatedly dissatisfied with your neighborhood pizza joint, you wouldn't go back to the pizza shop and pay double for the same thing. Instead, you'd order Thai or otherwise find a better way to spend the take-out food portion of your household budget.

Which bring us, somehow, to the topic of early childhood education.

A new report published this week in Behavioral Science and Policy Journal, raises serious questions about whether the widespread adoption of publicly funded preschool programs is in the best interest of children and taxpayers. Dale Farran and Mark Lipsey, the two Vanderbilt University researchers who published the study, say governments are funding pre-K programs without having a good sense of what these programs should be trying to achieve and without knowing how to judge if they're working.

These programs aren't cheap. According to the Brookings Institution, state and federal governments spent more than $34 billion on pre-K last year. Head Start, probably the most well-known early childhood education program, has been around since the 1960s and it costs the federal government more than $8 billion a year—not counting the matching funds that state and local governments pay when they receive a Head Start grant.

After all that time and all that money, there's not much evidence that Head Start has given students much of a head start. A 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that any benefits from the program "yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade."

Still, that doesn't mean all pre-K program don't work. Oklahoma, for example, has been funding statewide early education since 1998 and boasts that 74 percent of all four-year olds are enrolled in pre-K. Studies that tracked Oklahoma students from 1998 through 2010 found that children enrolled in pre-K consistently outperformed others, regardless of class or race.

Oklahoma's successes set off a mad dash in state capitols. By the end of 2015, 54 state-funded pre-K programs were operating in 42 states plus Washington, D.C., at a cost of more than $6.2 billion for state taxpayers. Programs that used to be narrowly targeted to low income students are now being expanded—New York City recently adopted a universal pre-K program and Barack Obama called for states to do the same in his 2016 State of the Union address.

In the rush to create new programs and expand old ones, Farran and Lipsey say, states are misallocating money and not checking for results.

"Viewed with a critical eye, the currently available research raises real questions about whether most state pre-K programs do anything more than boost 4-year-olds' academic cognitive skills to where they would be by the end of kindergarten anyway," Farran and Lipsey conclude. "Children are not well served by a perpetuation of magical thinking about the likelihood of profound effects resulting from poorly defined, state-run pre-K programs."

You can think about it like this: federal and state governments are spending $34 billion annually on take-out pizza, based on a study of take-out pizza in Oklahoma that concluded take-out pizza in Oklahoma was delicious. These governments don't know if the pizza everywhere else is any good. They don't know whether they would be better off spending their money on Thai food instead. They don't even know how to decide if the pizza they are getting is any good, but they're willing to pay more for it.

Hillary Clinton is promising to join the party. The Democratic presidential nominee says she would double the number of children enrolled in Head Start and would expand other federally-subsidized programs with the goal of giving all four-year olds access to pre-K. Clinton is no stranger to the issue: in the 1990s, she pushed for an expansion of Head Start that passed during her husband's time in office.

As with many other topics, Donald Trump's view on early childhood education is difficult to ascertain. He's a firm believer in local control over schooling decisions—"I'm a tremendous believer in education. But education has to be at a local level," he bellows in one campaign ad—and he has outlined a plan to allow parents to deduct the costs of child care, but it's not clear how he views the government's role in providing pre-K (the Republican platform adopted in Cleveland opposes public funding for pre-K on the grounds that it's a government intrusion into the parent-child relationship).

Regardless of who wins the election, federal and state officials should be asking if it make sense to keep funding pre-K when even the federal government admits it can't find much evidence of success in decades of trying?

It all comes down to "the ongoing triumph of hope over experience," says Lisa Snell, director of education policy for the Reason Foundation, which publishes this website.

"There are solid reasons to remain skeptical of multi-billion dollar investments in universal preschool," said Snell. "While there is research that preschool may improve some outcomes for kindergartners in terms of language development, the long-term gains from universal preschool have been more difficult to capture."

That's true even in Oklahoma—remember, the one state that had gotten pre-K right?

Oklahoma's improved test scores in reading happened only after the state implemented a third grade retention program to hold back students who weren't reading at the appropriate grade level. New evidence suggests that policy probably has more to do with the state's recent uptick in verbal and reading skills than the state's decades-old pre-K program.

Universal preschool comes with a massive price tag. It would cost about $75 billion to implement, under the terms outlines by Obama earlier this year. States would be on the hook for about 10 percent of the start-up costs and as much as 300 percent of federal outlays by the tenth year of the program.

The New America Foundation predicts that preschool programs meeting the proposed standards would cost about $8,000 per pupil per year. At that rate, providing preschool to just 75 percent of all 4-year olds would cost taxpayers about $25 billion annually.

That's a lot of money for "magical thinking."

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74 responses to “Hillary Clinton Wants More Kids to Get Nothing Out of Early Childhood Education

  1. Silly rabbit – what is actually being purchased is a increased in the voting constituency who are dependent on taxpayers money for their employment and can be counted on to vote for the politicians who promise to continue and increase that flow of money.

    The nominal purpose for the spending is irrelevant.

    1. ^this^

      Any policy initiated by the establishment politicians is solely a vehicle for graft and/or political leverage.

      Only idiots think politicians like Clinton care about the betterment of our society/country/children.

    2. + 500 million dollars for anti-bullying initiatives

    3. ^^YEAH!

      MOAR Teachers! MOAR Administrators! MOAR Union members! SucCess!

  2. “…The Democratic presidential nominee says she would double the number of children enrolled in Head Start and would expand other federally-subsidized programs with the goal of giving all four-year olds access to pre-K….”

    You want free shit? You came to the right place!

    1. I would love to ask Hillary a question in a town hall. I’d ask, “since education is going to be “free” under your plan, when are you going to cut my taxes since they will no longer be needed for?”

      “And if I may ask a followup: if a woman’s body is her own in the case of abortion, why isn’t it her own in the case of smoking marijuana?”

      1. Oooh, a two-fer. Why do you double hate children?

        1. haha I would pay to see those questions asked to a leftist.

  3. What on earth makes a person think that government education funding has anything to do students? Children are for their parents to worry about.

    1. You have to get to them before the parents can inculcate values that the nanny state feels are opposed to its interest Fist. And pretending you are doing them a favor and giving them free shit, is a great way to beat them to the punch…

      1. You have to get to them before the parents can inculcate values that the nanny state feels are opposed to its interest

        It’s as if they read Hobbes and took him seriously

    2. “You can’t rid yourselves of all the odd ducks in just a few years. The home environment can undo a lot you try to do at school. That’s why we’ve lowered the kindergarten age year after year until now we’re almost snatching them from the cradle.”

    3. Pre-K programs help teach kids what they should be learning in Kindergarten and kids are forever behind in how much they should be learning because public schools are so dumbed down- this seems like a government subsidized daycare scheme.

      1. ^ This +100

  4. Your criticism of the program only addresses one of the perceived benefits, which may not even be the primary “benefit” of this proposal. What’s called “pre school” now, was historically called “day care” and allows parents the ability to get things done (work) without their kids. Head start probably helps single parents who couldn’t otherwise work much more than it helps their kids.

    This is of course not to refute any of your arguments, just saying that it misses arguably half the point. There are lots of good arguments against state-sponsored day-care, but without making them you’re more likely to be dismissed by the liberals we libertarians need to persuade.

    1. Was thinking the same thing.

    2. The argument liberals make for these programs is that they give poor kids benefits that rich kids get at home, so that they don’t fall behind. Hence the “Head Start” name. I’ve never heard a liberal make the daycare argument. Are we not allowed to take liberals at their word? Do you have examples of liberals making this argument for pre-school? (I’ve seen them argue for public daycare too, but I’ve never heard the daycare rationale for preschool).

      If liberals really just wanted a daycare program, then it could be done a lot more cheaply. The fiction that these programs are education means that they have to hire qualified teachers, who are much more expensive than daycare workers.

      1. My state is right on the cusp of making DAY CARE workers have education degrees. So there goes that. The reality is the fascists are taking over every aspect of life and working each respective end(s) toward the middle(s) in between. Of course it’s not fascism when THEY do it, only when the wrong thinking people do it. In the end, it’s precisely why were are less politically civil, because the State has been shoe horned into every aspect of our lives, which is OK when it’s your superstitions getting petted, when it’s somebody else’s it cannot be borne. The State is violence, its works store violence like a dynamo stores energy. The bigger and more powerful it gets, the bigger the battle over the control of the storage.

        1. I’ve lived in two different states as a parent, and in both the daycares fall all over themselves to compete with each other by portraying themselves as “schools” and going on and on about their “curriculum” and the certifications of their “teachers” etc. I can only conclude that that is what parents want. I have to go to a “parent/teacher conference” for my 3 year old tomorrow.

      2. “The argument liberals make for these programs is that they give poor kids benefits that rich kids get at home”

        Poor kids don’t get the benefits rich kids get a home largely because their parents have failed at life. They are caught in a cycle of ignorance, substance abuse, and victim-mentality.

        Poor kids are largely only successful when their parents focus on lifting up their kids.

        Books are cheap, education is cheap, internet access is cheap, healthy food is cheap. Ignorance is really friggin expensive.

        1. Books are cheap, education is cheap, internet access is cheap, healthy food is cheap. Ignorance is really friggin expensive.

          I’d say it’s laziness over ignorance. Ignorance is easily cured. Laziness is not.

          1. The standard “doesn’t know stuff” variety is easily cured, but only when the value of knowledge is already understood. Entitlement and lack of effort definitely don’t help though.

      3. Which means more slots for unionized teachers, of course.

  5. I think perhaps cake might be the better analogy. They all want cake.

    1. Which has been banned from schools.

      1. Nu uh, they are free to have all the low fat gluten free artificially sweetened cake they like

        1. Artificial sweeteners are a gateway to real sugar.

  6. Oh they will be getting something all right: a good lefty indoctrination. These people have known for a long time that you need to get them as young as possible, before they can actually see how things work in the real world and become averse to idiotic ideas, to make sure you can collectivize them.

    1. Get them as early as possible and keep them in the indoctrination camp for 22-24 years. Free college for everyone.

  7. This is a real cute story. It’s as significant as a flea riding the butt hairs of a massive bull elephant story named “FBI”

  8. Not that I support government funding such things, but the High/Scope Perry Preschool Project showed some pretty significant improvements for underprivileged kids. I would imagine (without having reviewed the new study) that household wealth continues to be a stronger predictor than anything of future educational success, but that early childhood programs have a greater impact on low-income households than middle or high income households.

    1. The famous study from the 60s is at the core of every pro-preschool argument, but it’s not exactly a rigorous study. Much better designed studies have failed to show lasting results since then.

      1. It had issues; particularly how it partitioned the kids at the outset. That said, it’s also the longest-range study currently available- and there is some logic to the hypothesis that there would be diminishing returns of pre-school programs based on relative parental involvement- which happens to correlate with household income pretty strongly.

        1. I’d be willing to support something like this under 2 circumstances:

          1) A cost-benefit analysis explains to taxpayers how much we can expect results to improve per dollar spent.
          2) Built into the law are metrics are then used to establish goals which the government program must reach. If the program fails to reach those goals (whether they are long-term or not), then the government funding will be phased out until the program eventually ends.

    2. Latest research I saw stated that this is true only until you get to a household income of ~$130k, which constitutes the heart of the middle class where I live (coincidentally it’s what my teacher wife and her corporate drone husband combine to earn, and we’re both in our early 30’s). Even there I think it’s mistaking correlation for causation – the income has little to do with it, but people earning that amount when their kids get to school age are likely to have the cognitive ability and/or good habits necessary to succeed in school and can pass them on to their kids.

      I suspect that there will be a greater impact on the lower classes simply because the government’s interest in the child can server as a substitute for the lack of parental involvement, but I highly doubt it’s all that cost effective. But that’s not surprising; the theme of education spending over the last 50 years is decreasing marginal returns.

      1. Right- income is a predictor, not causative. I think that programs handled locally and funded locally could have a potentially positive impact; particularly if done on a voluntary basis by local communities. But I agree- nobody has ever been able to point out to me where the federal government received a mandate to provide education across the country.

    3. Even if fully factual the headline still reads, Redistribution Of Wealth Helps Poor Disproportionately.

      Moreover, the notion that wealth in the home far exceeds wealth in the public sphere with respect to influencing educational outcomes is practically axiomatic. Throwing money at random selection can’t possibly compete with innate self-selection both genetic and behavioral. Like trying to spend enough money to make taking a ramshackle collection of parts from every automaker and collapsing two-car garage in America in order to reliably produce cars that compete with mid- to high-end automakers/racers.

      1. Also keep in mind, in the study, the government has it’s fingers on both/all sides of the scale. (e.g.) Taking $50K of the taxpayers’ money to put a poor kid through pre-K which keeps him out of prison for a crime that a significant portion of the electorate wouldn’t have put him in prison for in the first place doesn’t exactly make taking the $50K right or profitable. Moreover, poor policies regarding mandatory minimums and terrible accounting regarding police and guard pensions means not only are the prices artificially inflated on the downside, but they’re probably worse (better for ROI) than advertised. By hammering teachers unions for every dime and handing out free pensions to detention officers the state (and researchers) can effectively generate any outcome they want.

      2. Throwing money at random selection can’t possibly compete with innate self-selection both genetic and behavioral.

        It’s almost like being poor and being wealthy are a collection of habits, priorities, and lifestyle decisions, rather than some arbitrarily chosen net worths.

  9. Pre-K kids don’t vote, but Julia wants free babysitting.

  10. The 2nd Law of Derpodynamics states that the stupidity of a closed mind cannot decrease.

    With In Full Color, Rachael Dole?al describes the path that led her from being a child of white evangelical parents to an NAACP chapter president and respected educator and activist who identified as black. Along the way, she’ll discuss the deep emotional bond she formed with her four adopted black siblings, the sense of belonging she felt while living in black communities in Jackson, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., and the discrimination she’s suffered while living as a black woman.

    “Her story is nuanced and complex, and in the process of telling it, she forces us to consider race in an entirely new light?not as a biological imperative, but as a function of the experiences we have, the culture we embrace, and, ultimately, the identity we choose.

    http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016…..black.html

    1. Dole?al? Has she transitioned to Negroslav?

    2. Her story is nuanced and complex pseudointellectual and intentionally overcomplicated, and in the process of telling it, she forces us to consider race in an entirely new light does injustice to the concept that the word race has a meaning — not as a she makes the inane argument that race is not a biological imperative, but as a function of the experiences we have, the culture we embrace, and, ultimately, the identity we choose. is some sort of postmodern fever dream made up by different societies, despite the reader’s ability to simply view the obvious and observable differences between races.

  11. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary, over many a curious volume of forgotten derp…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HHbZLD7W6c

  12. Can we please just do away with the pretense that any of this has anything to do with educating children? This is about “free” childcare. Period. Full stop.

    Why I should have to pay for someone else’s babysitter is beyond me. And honestly, I find how many parents look at what’s ostensibly supposed to be the education of their children as simply a thinly disguised babysitting service disgusting.

    1. “And honestly, I find how many parents look at what’s ostensibly supposed to be the education of their children as simply a thinly disguised babysitting service disgusting.”

      A member of my family who is pretty well off decided to move his family to DC because they have pre-K there beginning at 3. His wife, who doesn’t work, was thrilled because she would have so much more time to do…what? I do not know.

      1. “His wife, who doesn’t work, was thrilled because she would have so much more time to do…what? I do not know.”

        The pool boy?

    2. I’ve been ranting about that same thing for years. Quit calling it “pre-school.” It’s free daycare! But that phrase carries connotations of welfare queens.

    3. And honestly, I find how many parents look at what’s ostensibly supposed to be the education of their children as simply a thinly disguised babysitting service disgusting.

      This is extremely pervasive throughout our society. As my pastor said a few weeks back, “take an inventory of how your time is spent, and you’ll see what your priorities in life are.” There are a ton of people who will tell you that their spouse and their kids are important to them, but when they do a true inventory of their time, their real priorities are making money, watching TV, getting drunk, and playing golf. When you have less than 10 hours a week of direct contact with your kids (dropping them off at soccer and chatting with your friends the whole time doesn’t count), why should it be surprising when your kids take on the ethics and priorities of the people they’re around the most, their teachers and their classmates?

      1. Sorry, I forgot to add the punchline to connect it back to the quote.

        When parents have been convinced that “good parenting” of a 5 year old happens in front of the TV for an hour after homework is done and in the car between extracurriculars all weekend, it’s very easy to convince them that the 3 year old would benefit from the same thing.

  13. Parents who work have to arrange childcare much earlier than pre-K, so this will have little effect on the overall costs, but hey-if it makes everyone feel good, then surely it should be a law, right? Oh, and why not then expand pre-K to start at 1, when mom or dad have finished their year of paid parental leave.

  14. But think of the Feels you can get from it

  15. Of course she’s terrible. Trump will be far worse. The key is to elect her and then libertarians and principled conservatives downballot to keep her in check. Then at least we’ll have a country in 4 years to hand over to Rand Paul (or Austin Petersen?).

    1. Ticket splitting is as passe now as candidates handing out free cigarettes. You either buy the complete Blue Package (of shit) or Red Package-independent thought gets in the way of progress.

    2. If you think there are enough “principled conservatives” and libertarians to keep Hillary in check, you’re wrong. There are only possible reasons for voting for Trump:

      1. The Left, and more important the Press, will keep him in check (not to mention a certain number of Republicans).
      2. His election may destroy the Republican party as we know it. A Hillary win will only make it stronger.

    3. The key is to elect her

      Hold up. AddictionMyth is Bill Weld?!?

      1. If it quacks like a turd…

  16. At what point do you start to realize that the bad guys won and there’s not really anything you can do about it?

    1. For me, it was 2008.

  17. If Trump was campaigning with this woman all hell would break loose.

    Hillary Clinton Campaigns with Alleged Porn Star and Drug Cartel Mistress Alicia Machado

    http://heatst.com/politics/hil…..a-machado/

    1. Sorry — might be NSFW (depending on where you work).

      1. Yeah it was a bit- lucky I clicked on it while at lunch.

        Alleged Porn Star is an awesome band name.

  18. What’s amazing to me is that of all the studies out there that are not reproducible, this one keeps producing the same result over and over again. Can’t imagine why the “party of science” keeps ignoring these results when championing policies. I’m sure there must be some sort of reason somewhere…

  19. I’ve made $64,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student. Im using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money. It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it. Heres what I do,

    ??????? http://YoutubeJobs.Nypost55.com

  20. The idea is to separate the children from their parents and indoctrinate them in socialism not teach them academics. It is a success at weakening family bonds and ties to churches

  21. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  22. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  23. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  24. “A new report published this week in Behavioral Science and Policy Journal, raises serious questions about whether the widespread adoption of publicly funded preschool programs is in the best interest of children and taxpayers”

    You talk like the cattle have “interests”.

    Getting the cattle institutionalized at younger ages is advantageous to our Reptilian Overlords.

    It’s a twofer. Weakens families, starts institutionalization and indoctrination earlier. What’s not to like?

  25. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  26. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

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