Los Angeles (October 23, 2008) - Despite the massive $700 billion bailout and record deficits, many are calling on the federal government to spend tens of billions of dollars on a new universal preschool bureaucracy. To make matters worse, according to a new Reason.tv video, those billions would be spent on the same types of programs that have failed to produce better students or lasting gains on standardized tests.
The Reason.tv video says government-run preschools in Georgia and Oklahoma, the two states with the longest-running universal preschool programs, successfully prepare children for kindergarten. Unfortunately, these short-term gains completely 'fade out' by the fourth grade, at which point there is no difference in the test scores of students who did or didn't attend preschool.
"In these tough fiscal times we need to make smart decisions and really focus our limited education resources on programs that deliver results," said Lisa Snell, director of education at Reason Foundation. "We don't need an expansive new universal preschool system that gives 'free' preschool to rich kids. The children who truly benefit from preschool are low-income and disadvantaged. Those are the kids that preschool advocates should be targeting by fixing Head Start, which has failed miserably, and partnering with successful private programs and charter schools."
The video says universal preschool would put private daycare centers and preschools out of business, eliminating the diverse early childhood education options that most parents have today. In addition to stifling choice and competition, expanding K-12 education to include universal preschool would bring mandated curriculums; require preschool teachers to be credentialed so unions can be expanded; and would guarantee more money for the flawed public school system.
"Universal preschool isn't the silver bullet for our failing schools," said Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason.tv. "The one-size-fits-all, government-run education system clearly isn't working. We need more choices and competition, not less."
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Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109