Observations on life

Pushing for pre-school đź‘Ś another liberal cause with questionable assumptions

Intuitively pre-school programs are good, they are often presumed to give children a leg up on future schooling and if you listen to the mayor of New York, pre-school is the salvation of the middle class creating benefits and opportunity throughout ones life.

However, research does not substantiate those claims. Pre-school appears to have benefits for children during the actual period of pre-school, but that’s about it. In other words, it’s beneficial day care and for some children providing a better environment then at home.

But despite the facts, we continue to follow the well-meaning but flawed liberal agenda. We create solutions for symptoms, but fail to actually address the problems and in the process waste money, but more important allow the problem to fester. Think of it this way, success for health care reform is not an average individual subsidized premium of $87 a month. That only masks the problem of health care costs at the root causes of utilization and inefficiency at all levels. At the time we are chasing our tail with more money spent on populist ideas, using CBO revised mortality assumptions the Social Security Trust Fund will go bust three years sooner.

Don’t you wish you could live the fantasy world of progressivismâť“Oh wait, we all are.

Key Findings
Looking across the full study period, from the beginning of Head Start through 3rd grade, the evidence is clear that access to Head Start improved children’s preschool outcomes across developmental domains, but had few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade. Providing access to Head Start was found to have a positive impact on the types and quality of preschool programs that children attended, with the study finding statistically significant differences between the Head Start group and the control group on every measure of children’s preschool experiences in the first year of the study. In contrast, there was little evidence of systematic differences in children’s elementary school experiences through 3 grade, between children provided access to Head Start and their counterparts in the control group.

In terms of children’s well-being, there is also clear evidence that access to Head Start had an impact on children’s language and literacy development while children were in Head Start. These effects, albeit modest in magnitude, were found for both age cohorts during their first year of admission to the Head Start program. However, these early effects rapidly dissipated in elementary school, with only a single impact remaining at the end of 3rd grade for children in each age cohort.

With regard to children’s social-emotional development, the results differed by age cohort and by the person describing the child’s behavior. For children in the 4-year-old cohort, there were no observed impacts through the end of kindergarten but favorable impacts reported by parents and unfavorable impacts reported by teachers emerged at the end of 1st and 3rd grades. One unfavorable impact on the children’s self-report emerged at the end of 3rd grade. In contrast to the 4-year-old cohort, for the 3-year-old cohort there were favorable impacts on parent- reported social emotional outcomes in the early years of the study that continued into early elementary school. However, there were no impacts on teacher-reported measures of social- emotional development for the 3-year-old cohort at any data collection point or on the children’s self-reports in 3rd grade.

In the health domain, early favorable impacts were noted for both age cohorts, but by the end of 3rd grade, there were no remaining impacts for either age cohort. Finally, with regard to parenting practices, the impacts were concentrated in the younger cohort. For the 4-year-old cohort, there was one favorable impact across the years while there were several favorable impacts on parenting approaches and parent-child activities and interactions (all reported by parents) across the years for the 3-year-old cohort.

In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children.

In addition to looking at Head Start’s average impact across the diverse set of children and families who participated in the program, the study also examined how impacts varied among different types of participants. There is evidence that for some outcomes, Head Start had a differential impact for some subgroups of children over others. At the end of 3rd grade for the 3-year-old cohort, the most striking sustained subgroup findings were found in the cognitive domain for children from high risk households as well as for children of parents who reported no depressive symptoms. Among the 4-year-olds, sustained benefits were experienced by children of parents who reported mild depressive symptoms, severe depressive symptoms, and Black children.

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1 reply »

  1. you are right on target re the benefits of pre-school (more of a “social” program benefit and baby -sitting service) than a true educational “jump starter”. But hey try to tell this to the Randy Weingardens of the world. In NYC pre-school is not mandatory but if the progressives have their way….it soon will be…..More jobs, security and union dues into the coffers of the teachers unions to say nothing of the opportunity for the left to spread their progressive agenda to the youngest common denominator in the class room. Sounds like a home run to me!

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