The President is right down I-20 today to push for more pre school spending. He stated his belief in the State of The Union address by saying;
"Every dollar we invest in high quality early education can save 7 dollars later on—by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime. In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, and form more stable families of their own"
So he is in Georgia today talking to people about the great work being done at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur. The President's vision is rather simple according to the NY Times. Just duplicate what they're doing in Decatur GA all over the country and all kids will benefit. But is he right?
For those of you whom forgot, we already invest billions of dollars in a failed national program called Head Start. As the Dept of Health and Human Services said in their 2010 study of the program; With only a few exceptions, teacher and classroom characteristics did not differ significantly between children in the Head Start group and those in the control group. 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.
In other words Pre-School helped some but not all kids do better in Kindergarten and maybe even the first few grades, but by 3rd grade the advantage was gone. The President thinks that's worth investing 12 billion dollars a year, after we invest about 100 billion to get it up and running. But it didn't work you're probably screaming!
Well it didn't work because Head Start isn't based on what they were doing in Decatur. Head Start was slapped together by some schmucks...who were they again? Dr. Robert Cooke, a pediatrician at John Hopkins University, and Dr. Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and director of the Child Study Center at Yale University.
Yeah them doofuses. Their program was launched in 1965 and every time it comes back with a grade of sucking the government says it's because we're not spending enough on it. They have had major expansions of Head Start in 1981, 1994 and again in 2007. We currently spend $7200 dollars a year on every kid in Head Start. The new Obama proposal will put some new procedures in place and up the spending to $10,000 a year per student. Now stop and think about that. A class of 30 kids costs us $300,000 a year! You know the teacher isn't getting most of that money. Do they have magic chalk boards, or iPhones for the kids? Of course not. It's spent on something called bureaucracy.
Now to answer the million dollar question or in this case the 12 billion dollar a year question. Why do some kids excel when they receive pre-school and others don't? The number one reason seems to be parents. Or better put the influence and or amount of time adults spend working with a young person outside of school. Education is a full time job. And full time like all the time. Not 8 hours a day, but rather you get 8 hours off for sleeping, and the rest of the time you are working on that kid. Reading stories, playing games just talking to them. That's how they learn. Low income kids come to school with a huge disadvantage in a lot of cases because one parent may not live with them, or both parents have to work a lot, or the very unpopular answer, sometimes those parents don't care much about their kids. Of course that's not a poor people exclusive set of problems. Middle class and rich kids sometimes have those issues too, but it seems far less frequent. So should we just write off all poor kids, or kids who don't have both parents, or parents who can't be there much? Of course not! But that's where citizens rise up. If American's know there's a problem they rally to fix it. Look at disaster relief. Is it FEMA saving people? No it's citizens, and civic organizations, and churches. But when your told the government is handling the problem and on top of it they take the money from you to pay for it, well it's easy to look away.
I believe the President would do far more good if he used his amazing speaking gifts to make a speech like this today in Georgia. "We all admire the great work being done here at College Heights. And the parents of these kids worked really hard to get their kids selected. As we know 8 out of 10 applications are turned away. But it's not based on income, thankfully. So these parents are blessed with a great school for their children. But this school is blessed too... with great parents who are very active in helping these kids succeed! We need to surround kids with more adults like this. We as a nation have been trying for decades to even the playing field with Head Start, but it's obvious government can't do it. It has to be done by neighbors and friends. So we are ending the Head Start program and returning those billions to the tax payer. And here's what we hope will happen. Home school pre k's will pop up all over the country. The competition should drop the prices for tuition's, along with a flood of new customers. We are going to try and de regulate that industry as much as possible too. We'll keep the safeguards in place like no sex offenders working there, but it really should be a unique experience at each one. Parents can see for themselves what kind of teaching their kids respond to best. I would also like to see more after school programs. Boys & Girls clubs do so much for our kids who would otherwise head to an empty home after school. Everyone who wants to see our kids do better should donate. Or Big Brothers and Big Sisters, or scouting or anything that puts young people in an enviroment to learn and have fun Get involved America with our kids, because all of our future is riding on them.