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What’s Really Behind Expansion of Pre-K in Texas?

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.   |    February 20, 2015  |   Education Views 

More spending and more spending for education!  As the Texas 84th Legislative Session gets underway, politicians are pushing for a massive overhaul in early childhood education.  Numerous bills have been filed to increase the program from half-day to full day as well as to expand the eligible base. 

Senator Zaffirini filed Senate Bill 23, which would provide free day care for ALL 4-year-olds and for 3-year-olds who don’t speak English, are homeless regardless of their residence, are educationally disadvantaged, or are from a military family.

State Representatives Eric Johnson and Marsha Farney filed House Bill 1100 which would provide a gold standard FULL day pre-kindergarten program for public school districts.

Johnson in a statement said, "The research is in, and it shows that full-day pre-K is one of the best investments we can make in education. It can cut the achievement gap for children in poverty in half and will reduce future spending on remedial education, special education and the criminal justice system. If we're serious about improving public education, we've got to get serious about full-day pre-K."  

This cure-all promotion of pre-K sounds like that of Hadacol, the tonic from the 1940s that promised to relieve all manner of ailments.  It was widely promoted by LeBlanc, who concocted the foul tasting liquid, with testimonials flooding the airwaves about its miraculous healing power.  Hadacol was a dismal failure and an expensive lesson for those who invested in the scheme. 

Rep. Johnson’s statement that research proves pre-K to be a great investment of taxpayer money is totally false. 

It is amazing how many Texas business leaders and politicians are spouting—without checking the facts -- that bogus claim for miraculous benefits of free daycare provided by Texas taxpayers.

The Research

Frequently cited by Texas pre-K advocates is the May 2006 study by Texas A&M University which claims that, for every $1 of taxes invested in universal pre-K, there will be a return of $3.50 to Texas communities through lower welfare and juvenile incarceration costs and higher future wages.

 

The Texas study was patterned after the 2005 RAND study of the Chicago Child-Parent Center.  

 

However, there were several fundamental differences between the CPC study and the hypothetical universal program for Texas. 

Both studies have been determined to be significantly flawed. 

Regarding the Texas A&M study, Texas Public Policy Foundation states that, “Over estimation of certain benefits and omission of some costs cast doubt upon the $3.50 return-per-dollar estimate so frequently cited in discussions of universal pre-k in Texas.” 

Proponents also cite findings from other studies including the Perry Preschool project, which claims a return of $7 or more for each taxpayer dollar invested. 

In spite of this project being widely cited as evidence that universal pre-K brings a return of $7 or more on the taxpayer’s investment dollar, it has been determined that this study was compromised by significant sampling and methodological errors. 

Two contemporary studies also cited by preschool advocates are the Head Start Impact Study and the statewide Tennessee study done by Vanderbilt University. 

Proponents praise the well-known French universal pre-K program that enrolls nearly all three- and four-year-olds as a model for American nationalized pre-K.  Yet the truth is that U.S. fourth graders outperform their counterparts in France and in most other developed countries.  

The Facts:

  • In all of these studies, academic gains from pre-K generally fade out by the third grade. 

For long term gains to be realized, American elementary and secondary schools will have to be greatly improved.

  • Research shows that more time in non-maternal daycare rather than less can be detrimental to the behavioral development of children.  Behavioral problems of children who attended preschool even for short periods of time included bullying and aggression as well as a lack of self-control and cooperation.
  • Research on both domestic and international preschool programs provides strong evidence that preschool is unlikely to improve student achievement. 

If the research clearly shows there to be no long term effects for the costly taxpayer provided free daycare, then what is the goal for expanding preschool in Texas?  If it is for the reasons that Rep. Johnson has stated, then we are wasting taxpayer money and putting our children at risk.

However, the fundamental debate is not really about the expense or effectiveness of pre-K or even kindergarten. Rather the issue is who should bear the responsibility for the education of our young.  Implicit is that the state should assume greater responsibility for this. 

As we witness the power grab by the federal government in all areas of our public and private lives, it is vital that we understand the purpose of statist control of education. We must, because those who seek to steal our freedoms well understand and use it to achieve their totalitarian goals. 

 “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”  Adolf Hitler 

“Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world.”  Vladimir Lenin

This latest effort to expand preschool in Texas is merely a Trojan horse for government run universal pre-K.  And we already know how wildly successful government run K-12 is!  Successful yes – it has been wildly successfully in radically changing the culture of our nation and producing students who can’t read or cipher and view government entitlements as Constitutional rights. 

Copyright ©2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D.  All rights reserved  /  www.drcarolehhaynes.com

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