As we all know, “early childhood education” is a new buzzword since the State of the Union Address.
No, I don’t mean the most recent SOTU speech. I mean the one President Obama gave over a year ago.
Barack Obama seems to be stuck on a few familiar ideas that he is never able to implement, but also never able to let go.
Like all his favorite proposals, this one involves a lot of spending on the promise that, many years from now, it will all pay off.
Supposedly, the earlier our children are dumped into the lap of professional educators, the better off they will be. But that seems awfully depressing, since it means that, without the early intervention of those educators, our children have no chance. I’ve noted before that this view seems fatalistic and contrary to some anecdotal evidence.
But the evidence against Obama’s proposal is more than anecdotal. Research doesn’t substantiate the value of an “investment” in early childhood education. According to the Daily Caller,
Contrary to the president’s statements, research does not indicate that greater funding of early education efforts would be a worthwhile investment for the nation’s children. Experts from the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution and the Reason Foundation have all told The Daily Caller that there is very little evidence for the claims made by universal pre-K supporters.
While children enrolled in preschool tend to develop more quickly than their peers, the gains don’t last. By fourth grade, children who enrolled in preschool are no more intellectually or socially advanced than their peers, according to studies.
This is wonderful news for all of us. When they claim “the gains don’t last,” what they are really saying is that, despite lacking the early advantage, most other children tend to catch up. No one is forever held back because of some missing level of education in early childhood.
The proverb is true: It doesn’t matter where you begin; what matters is how you finish.