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Federal Early Childhood Education, Care Don’t Benefit Kids. Here Are the Facts.

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Will universal child care become universal pre-school? That’s an even worse idea, writes Lindsey Burke writes:

Although the Warren plan talks about day care subsidies rather than “preschool” subsidies, the reference to “curriculum standards” suggests the effort will be about more than child care for parents.

Warren’s plan reportedly calls for “requiring child care providers that receive federal funds [to] meet standards similar to those that now apply to Head Start.”

Well, Head Start is far from a success story when it comes to participant outcomes.

The Department of Health and Human Services released thescientifically rigorous Head Start Impact Study in 2012, which tracked 5,000 3- and 4-year-old children through the end of third grade. The results? Head Start had little to no impact on the parenting practices or the cognitive, social-emotional, and health outcomes of participants. Notably, on a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on participating children.

Taxpayers have spent nearly $200 billion on Head Start since its inception in 1965. Yet, as the federal evaluation found, by the time the children finished third grade, there was no difference between those who attended Head Start and the control group of their peers who did not.

At the state level, proponents of government-funded early education and care programs have long held up Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K program as a model state-based preschool program. They note the fact that the child-adult ratio is limited to 10-to-1, teachers must be licensed, and a structured “age appropriate” curriculum must be used in classrooms.

But a randomized control trial evaluation conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University reported no significant differences between the control group and the preschool group on any achievement measures by the end of kindergarten.

[Lindsey Burke, “Federal Early Childhood Education, Care Don’t Benefit Kids. Here Are the Facts.” The Daily Signal, February 19]

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