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Hey, Obama, Leave Them Kids Alone! February 15, 2013

Posted by Michael in News.

“High Quality”

Those were the only two words President Obama uttered during his State of the Union address that interested me. Here is the context:

He went on:

In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own.  We know this works.

President Barack Obama, State of the Union, February 12, 20

Just yesterday, Obama went on and on about this in Georgia. You can see his comments here. He clearly thinks that early childhood education is a political winner.

But, but, Mr. President, how exactly do you “know this works”?

We turn to the White House blog for an answer.

Leading economists agree that high-quality early learning programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades. [Emphasis supplied]

High Quality Education for All Children

Wait a minute, why are we citing the opinion of “leading economists”? They surely have no expertise to measure the effects, much less sort out the variables and causal relationships, that arise from preschool education.

I’ll tell you why.  Educational experts have found that federally sponsored preschool is a failure.

You may well ask, what educational experts? Why, the ones hired by the Department of Education (and who will never be hired again) to evaluate its own Head Start program.

Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in 1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.

But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this “investment.”  According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.

Head Start a Sad and Costly Failure

And that’s putting it nicely. Let’s be frank, Head Start is just a massive babysitting service that gives welfare moms a chance to relax and watch some cable TV. (And God forbid that they would have to rouse themselves to make lunch for their kids.)

So, with $180B wasted over almost 50 years, one might reasonably ask why we should flush more money down this toilet. The answer is — Uncle Sam will now do it with “high quality,” which really means more money. And thus Obama’s careful qualifier.  People like Obama (and especially his friends in the liberal teachers’ unions) cannot conceive of the possibility that a federal program is an abject failure. They can only conclude that it was “under-funded.”

It’s inconceivable that preschool education is properly the pursuit of parents, family, friends, churches, charities, and local school boards. Oh no, there must be a leading role for bureaucrats in D.C.

Hey, Obama, leave them kids alone!


1. edge of the sandbox - February 16, 2013

What kinds under 6 need is a loving caregiver, preferably the one called “mom”. I’m not convinced kindergarten is necessary. The US had much better luck in education in the 50s and early 60s, before its advent.

2. Retired Geezer - February 16, 2013

I agree with your comment about ‘mom’ but I think you’re off on your date. I attended kindergarten in 1949.

3. Nan G - February 21, 2013

The USSR’s claim to fame was taking babies away from parents so THE STATE could influence them from the start.
What’s Obama’s excuse?

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