The Universal Pre-K Fallacy

   < < Go Back
from NCPA,

Free school for 4-year-olds? Sounds great. Too bad it is of no educational value and the cost would be staggering.

Universal pre-kindergarten schooling, every progressive’s fondest dream, is back in the news. Bill de Blasio, the overwhelming favorite in the New York mayoral race and the likely future head of the nation’s largest school system, is pushing universal pre-K as his number one policy proposal. President Obama offered a national version of this idea in his February State of the Union address and has since pushed hard in other settings. Two problems: Such programs would have negligible educational value and they would be massively expensive, says Red Jahncke, president of the Townsend Group, in the Wall Street Journal.

De Blasio wants to raise taxes on the city’s rich to collect $530 million annually mostly to fund full-day pre-K.

Mr. Obama takes a similar tack by expressing dissatisfaction with the availability and quality of most existing preschool. He says he wants ” high-quality” preschool. What he doesn’t say is whether the existing ” high-quality” programs show significant educational gains.

There is no research supporting the president’s proposition that formal schooling can begin effectively in preschool, even if it is delivered as rigorously as Mr. Obama proposes.

If improving early education is the goal, let’s leave formal schooling to begin in kindergarten and first grade, where improvements are needed and can be implemented with demonstrable effects.

More From NCPA: