Today is Pre-Kindergarten Day at the Capitol. As state lawmakers and legislative staff receive requests for more money for state-run pre-k and an enlargement of the government’s role in pre-k, consider these facts:

– Various domestic and international preschool programs provide strong evidence that the widespread adoption of preschool and full-day kindergarten is unlikely to improve student achievement.- Academic gains from pre-k tend to fade out by the 3rd grade. Unless elementary and secondary schools are significantly improved, any gains from preschool will not likely result in lasting gains. – A substantial body of research shows that formal early education can actually be detrimental to the behavioral development of children in mainstream programs (those not in special education). – There is a large private sector market in Texas already providing early childhood education. A move towards universal pre-k run by the state will shut down many mom-and-pop day care centers in legislative districts throughout the state.

Last February, the Texas Public Policy Foundation teamed up with the Goldwater Institute to publish a comprehensive report on pre-k. This is a must-read for those who want to know more about the pros and cons of government-run preschool.

As policymakers consider changes to the state’s pre-k program, we recommend that any changes include the private sector as a full partner of pre-k. We also suggest transforming all early education spending into grants that will allow parents to choose the most appropriate preschool setting for their child. Finally, if policymakers really want to help the middle class afford early childhood education, provide those families with tax relief rather than yet another government program.

– Brooke Terry