Pre-K Advocates Deliver New Shipment of Baloney
Meant to be raised in a family, not an institution.
If someone decides that day-care is the best option for them and their child and they wish to pay for it with their own earnings, then I fully support their right to make that decision. On the other hand, I cannot protest strongly enough against squandering taxpayer money on government day-care. Oh, they don't call it government day care, they call it "Pre-K education" in order to make it sound like something other than another government program which undermines the traditional family. Statists tend to be control freaks who will relentlessly work to undermine any institution with the ability to oppose the actions of the state, be it the church, the family, or some citizen group which fights for private property rights.
They don't call it day care, but that is what it is. Three and four year old children learn by PLAYING. They learn during "moments of opportunity" rather than planned instruction. I think subjecting them to "quality preschool" that starts pounding "skill sets" at them at age three is cruel and unusual punishment. The Arkansas legislature recently voted to raise the minimum age of kindergarteners (there is some good info on that link). They believed the teachers who testified that younger children simply were not ready for school. So why should that same legislature then turn around and vote for more Pre-K?
Studies on the effects of "quality Pre-K education" show that any positive effects (mostly for children whose home environment is impoverished) fade away in a few years. On the other hand, KIPP programs implemented when children are aged more appropriately for institutionalized learning have shown great and lasting success.
So why are they pushing Pre-K over Kipp? It's not about education. It's about economics and power. It's about pushing more women into the work force by making single income families harder to sustain (since they are paying for the child care of parents who are working through the Pre-K programs). It is about getting everybody dependent on a government program from cradle to grave. Don't think about how much you think you need child care for the next three years- think about how you will be paying for that three years of "free" Pre-K for the rest of your life.
Even though the studies which favor Pre-K are rare, and those rare examples have been debunked, Pre-K is a proven way to 1) spend lots of money, 2) tax stay-at-home moms for the benefit of working moms, 3) encourage three year old children to spend less time in families and more time in a government institution, and 4) widen the responsibilities of a government school system that everybody admits can't handle the responsibilities they have now. It is unproven as a way to bring lasting educational or other benefits to children. Yet here they are again. The so-called "Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families" has released yet another report on how wonderful it would be if Arkansans would spend even more money on "Quality Pre-K Education.
Under the heading "Quality Pre-K Works" the author used three sets of deceptive statistics. One was that Children in the program performed from 2.7 % to 8.1% better than children who had child care voucher programs. In other words, they only compared their achievement to that of children raised in another government program. They released no details on if their were any differences in I.Q., parent involvement, income, or anything else in the two groups before each program began. In other words, children whose parents choose "Pre-K Education" program over a voucher program may have a stronger motivation to educate their children from the start, and that alone could explain the slightly higher scores.
The second set of misleading statistics was comparing the children who had the program to what was presumably a like group of children without it. Their scores in kindergarten and first grade were much better- but since every study that looked at the issue besides the one debunked Perry School study documents that the effects of Pre-K wear off after a few years it is really not relevant whether or not such children hit the floor running in kindergarten. What matters is how much of that translates into sustained improvement.
I suspect that they can't document lasting gains, because their third and final statistical "proof" of the value of these programs was that third-grade math scores from all students from 2005-2011 increased 37%. They did not even separate out the scores of students who went through their internment camps from all other students. They just tried to grab credit for a general increase in scores. Even this is bogus because these are state bench-mark scores we are talking about, and they have been on the improvement because the tests are being made progressively easier and the teachers are getting better at "teaching to the test". A rising tide lifts all boats, even those tethered to an ineffective Pre-K program. While our scores on our on state tests keep getting better so politicians can take credit for "improvement", our kid's scores on tests that we can't game like that continues to drop.
Very soon this state is going to hit a budget crisis. We are either going to have to cut children's health care or cut something else. Let's make it something else.