Americans are depending on government to provide more and more services that have traditionally been the sphere of the family or the private sector. The latest trend is the push for universal full-day preschool for all four-year-olds – including children from poor, middle class, and wealthy families.
Pre-kindergarten advocates cite studies that underestimate costs and exaggerate benefits. For example, a study by the Bush School at Texas A&M University claims taxpayers will save at least $3.50 for every dollar spent on preschool. The research clearly shows this claim is misleading and wrong. Any academic benefits from pre-kindergarten fade out by the third grade, so a Cadillac preschool may not equal fewer dropouts.
Examine the results of states with taxpayer funded universal public preschool. Oklahoma and Georgia have both had universal pre-kindergarten for more than a decade and have not seen a rise in fourth grade reading, math, or science scores, as documented in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
If policymakers want to help working families afford preschool, do not turn pre-kindergarten into an entitlement and further grow government. Instead, give families a tax cut and let them use the money to choose the best environment for their child.
– Brooke Terry