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News & Politics News & Politics

President ignores evidence government preschool hurts children

Posted by on Feb. 14, 2013 at 10:39 PM
  • 18 Replies

Early Years

Joy Pullmann
Managing Editor, School Reform News

The president is so interested in evidence-based policies, his administration has suppressed and ignored evidence that a new federal preschool program he proposed Tuesday will waste money the country doesn’t have while hurting children.

A month ago, The Huffington Post broke the news that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Department of Health and Human Services have been plotting to get 1.85 million three- and four-year-olds enrolled in government preschool. Currently, the federal Head Start program enrolls about 900,000 small children from poor families, at a cost of $8 billion per year, or $180 billion since the program was conceived in a well-meaning thrust of government paternalism. President Obama wants middle-income kids in government care centers, too, as he announced Tuesday during his State of the Union.

Federal researchers have been studying Head Start for decades, and have never found significant, long-lasting benefits. The research consistently shows that kids who attend Head Start are, four or five years later, no different from their peers who did not attend. In short, the program is like an $8 billion Popsicle binge: it makes grown-ups feel good about giving the kiddos a token while the kids get no nutrition. Seeing these results, HHS suppressed its own research and dumped the latest report full of zeroes on the Friday before Christmas 2012. In January, Congress sent Head Start a $100 million bonus.

According to Swedish researcher Britta Johansson: “The public offer of full-day child care seems to make many parents lose the grip on their own responsibility. They trust that their children are better fostered by the pre-school and school … [but] pre-school and school cannot fill the gaps caused by lack of parental time with their children and trust in parents’ role.”

I have two toddlers. I understand how stressful small children are, and how easy it is for mothers to believe experts who actually get a morning shower can do it better. But reams of studies show what nature and experience already makes obvious: The best habitat for small children is a home with a married mother and father, where grownups read the babies lots of books and keep them away from computers and TVs. People who ignore this provide cover for parents to handicap their own children.

To truly care for small children in the U.S., we have to undergird families, not separate them. A first — cheap! — real step to improving early learning would be an ad campaign urging parents to interactively read to their kids. Library books are free, and websites abound with reading tutorials. To nurture small people socially and academically, there is no place like home.

Joy Pullmann is managing editor of School Reform News and an education research fellow at The Heartland Institute. 


http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/early_years/2012/12/head_start_advantages_mostly_gone_by_third_grade_study_finds.html

by on Feb. 14, 2013 at 10:39 PM
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momov4888
by Member on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:02 PM
2 moms liked this

Heartand Institute-front group for Koch Brothers/thought that name sounded familiar! Calls itself a THINK TANK that is linked to ALEC, also funded by Koch Brothers.

H.I. is widely known for circulating false reports on a number of issues like climate change(remember, Koch Bros in oil business), education, and on and on and on.

grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:13 PM

 Do you remember when Obama said this?

President Obama has stated that his administration would, “use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.”

grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM
1 mom liked this

 The report they sat on until after the election and the Friday before Christmas, was not the first HHS negative report on Head Start.  The first one was released in 2010.

 

Head Start: A Tragic Waste of Money

This article appeared in the New York Post on January 28, 2010.

Head Start, the most sacrosanct federal education program, doesn't work.

 

That's the finding of a sophisticated study just released by President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Created in 1965, the comprehensive preschool program for 3- and 4-year olds and their parents is meant to narrow the education gap between low-income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. Forty-five years and $166 billion later, it has been proven a failure.

 

"Instead of throwing more dollars at this proven failure, President Obama might consider throwing his weight behind proven successes."

 

The bad news came in the study released this month: It found that, by the end of the first grade, children who attended Head Start are essentially indistinguishable from a control group of students who didn't.

 

What's so damning is that this study used the best possible method to review the program: It looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either the Head Start ("treatment") group or to the non-Head Start ("control") group.

 

Random assignment is the "gold standard" of medical and social-science research: It gives investigators confidence that the treatment and control groups are essentially identical in every respect except their access to Head Start. So if eventual test performances differ, we can be pretty sure that the difference was caused by the program. No previous study of Head Start used this approach on a nationally representative sample of children.

 

When the researchers gave both groups of students 44 different academic tests at the end of the first grade, only two seemed to show even marginally significant advantages for the Head Start group. And even those apparent advantages vanished after standard statistical controls were applied.

 

In fact, not a single one of the 114 tests administered to first graders - of academics, socio-emotional development, health care/health status and parenting practice - showed a reliable, statistically significant effect from participating in Head Start.

 

Some advocates of the program have acknowledged these dramatic results, but suggest that it's not necessarily Head Start's fault if its effects vanish during kindergarten and the first grade - perhaps our K-12 schools are to blame.

 

But that's beside the point. Even if it's true, it means that Head Start will be of no lasting value to children until we fix our elementary and secondary schools. Until then, money spent on Head Start will continue to be wasted.

 

Yet the Obama administration remains enthusiastic. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both want to boost funding for Head Start - that is, to spend more on a program that's sure to fail. That's after the president already raised spending on the program from $6.8 billion to $9.2 billion last year.

 

Instead of throwing more dollars at this proven failure, President Obama might consider throwing his weight behind proven successes. A federal program that pays private-school tuition for poor DC families, for instance, has been shown to raise students' reading performance by more than two grade levels after just three years, compared to a control group of students who stayed in public schools. And it does so at about a quarter the cost to taxpayers of DC's public schools.

 

Sadly, Obama and Duncan have ignored the DC program's proven success. Neither lifted a finger to save it when Democrats in Congress pulled the plug on its funding last year.

 

Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect national Democrats to end a Great Society program, even when it's a proven failure. Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect them to stand up to teachers' union opposition and support private-school-choice programs that are proven successes.

 

Of course, until last week, it seemed unrealistic to expect a Republican to win the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy. If voters get angry enough with federal education politics, national Democrats may start learning from their state-level colleagues who are starting to support effective policies like school choice. Or they may just lose their seats, too.

 

Andrew J. Coulson directs the Cato Insti tute's Center for Educational Freedom.

 

  

 

BunnyBird
by on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:38 PM
1 mom liked this
From what I gathered by the article, preschool "hurts" kids by a mistake the parents make. Of course, children would do better at home with a mother who is genetically dedicated to their well-being and education. Thry might even do better with a father at home as well. But, the fathers usually work. Many times, so do the mothers...so preschool for middle class children whose parents choose it is a start to something.
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SlapItHigh
by on Feb. 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM
2 moms liked this
Does this mean you actually dispute the evidence that ha repeatedly shown head start to be of no lasting benefit? I don't know this institute but the info is common knowledge. I see you chose not to dispute the info, only the source. So lets hear it -- what have you to say about the actual evidence on Head Start?


Quoting momov4888:

Heartand Institute-front group for Koch Brothers/thought that name sounded familiar! Calls itself a THINK TANK that is linked to ALEC, also funded by Koch Brothers.

H.I. is widely known for circulating false reports on a number of issues like climate change(remember, Koch Bros in oil business), education, and on and on and on.


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SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:17 AM
1 mom liked this

Not the point. Read the study. Which says Head Start is not effective. As the studies have said for decades. And you will realize the data say exactly what this author says.

And the relevance to the study results that you don't like the author's ideology IS? Verify that she is telling the truth, and pay attention to the study results, instead of your petty bigotries.

And you all call yourselves the "tolerant" members of the "tolerant" party. Ha!

Quoting momov4888:

Heartand Institute-front group for Koch Brothers/thought that name sounded familiar! Calls itself a THINK TANK that is linked to ALEC, also funded by Koch Brothers.

H.I. is widely known for circulating false reports on a number of issues like climate change(remember, Koch Bros in oil business), education, and on and on and on.



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:20 AM

Yeah, that's what he said. Does he even remember? Somehow, I doubt it. Or if he does, he says WTH? 

Quoting grandmab125:

 Do you remember when Obama said this?

President Obama has stated that his administration would, “use only one test when deciding what ideas to support with your precious tax dollars: It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative, but whether it works.”



SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:22 AM

All of the studies have said the same thing since at least the 1990s or earlier.

Quoting grandmab125:

 The report they sat on until after the election and the Friday before Christmas, was not the first HHS negative report on Head Start.  The first one was released in 2010.


Head Start: A Tragic Waste of Money

This article appeared in the New York Post on January 28, 2010.

Head Start, the most sacrosanct federal education program, doesn't work.


That's the finding of a sophisticated study just released by President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services.


Created in 1965, the comprehensive preschool program for 3- and 4-year olds and their parents is meant to narrow the education gap between low-income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. Forty-five years and $166 billion later, it has been proven a failure.


"Instead of throwing more dollars at this proven failure, President Obama might consider throwing his weight behind proven successes."


The bad news came in the study released this month: It found that, by the end of the first grade, children who attended Head Start are essentially indistinguishable from a control group of students who didn't.


What's so damning is that this study used the best possible method to review the program: It looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either the Head Start ("treatment") group or to the non-Head Start ("control") group.


Random assignment is the "gold standard" of medical and social-science research: It gives investigators confidence that the treatment and control groups are essentially identical in every respect except their access to Head Start. So if eventual test performances differ, we can be pretty sure that the difference was caused by the program. No previous study of Head Start used this approach on a nationally representative sample of children.


When the researchers gave both groups of students 44 different academic tests at the end of the first grade, only two seemed to show even marginally significant advantages for the Head Start group. And even those apparent advantages vanished after standard statistical controls were applied.


In fact, not a single one of the 114 tests administered to first graders - of academics, socio-emotional development, health care/health status and parenting practice - showed a reliable, statistically significant effect from participating in Head Start.


Some advocates of the program have acknowledged these dramatic results, but suggest that it's not necessarily Head Start's fault if its effects vanish during kindergarten and the first grade - perhaps our K-12 schools are to blame.


But that's beside the point. Even if it's true, it means that Head Start will be of no lasting value to children until we fix our elementary and secondary schools. Until then, money spent on Head Start will continue to be wasted.


Yet the Obama administration remains enthusiastic. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both want to boost funding for Head Start - that is, to spend more on a program that's sure to fail. That's after the president already raised spending on the program from $6.8 billion to $9.2 billion last year.


Instead of throwing more dollars at this proven failure, President Obama might consider throwing his weight behind proven successes. A federal program that pays private-school tuition for poor DC families, for instance, has been shown to raise students' reading performance by more than two grade levels after just three years, compared to a control group of students who stayed in public schools. And it does so at about a quarter the cost to taxpayers of DC's public schools.


Sadly, Obama and Duncan have ignored the DC program's proven success. Neither lifted a finger to save it when Democrats in Congress pulled the plug on its funding last year.


Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect national Democrats to end a Great Society program, even when it's a proven failure. Perhaps it's unrealistic to expect them to stand up to teachers' union opposition and support private-school-choice programs that are proven successes.


Of course, until last week, it seemed unrealistic to expect a Republican to win the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy. If voters get angry enough with federal education politics, national Democrats may start learning from their state-level colleagues who are starting to support effective policies like school choice. Or they may just lose their seats, too.


Andrew J. Coulson directs the Cato Insti tute's Center for Educational Freedom.


  




SallyMJ
by Ruby Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:24 AM

Essentially the study says the gains are temporary, and disappear.

With that huge amount of money, I'd rather have a program that works. Otherwise, save the taxpayer money.

Quoting BunnyBird:

From what I gathered by the article, preschool "hurts" kids by a mistake the parents make. Of course, children would do better at home with a mother who is genetically dedicated to their well-being and education. Thry might even do better with a father at home as well. But, the fathers usually work. Many times, so do the mothers...so preschool for middle class children whose parents choose it is a start to something.



grandmab125
by Platinum Member on Feb. 15, 2013 at 1:36 AM

 I don't understand how you came to that conclusion.  What that article pointed out in 2010 on that study, which was the third one (I thought it was the first), is that even though this program was designed to work with the parents and the kids, by the end of first grade, any advantages they might have had coming into kinder compared to kids who weren't in Head Start or any other program, were gone.

Quoting BunnyBird:

From what I gathered by the article, preschool "hurts" kids by a mistake the parents make. Of course, children would do better at home with a mother who is genetically dedicated to their well-being and education. Thry might even do better with a father at home as well. But, the fathers usually work. Many times, so do the mothers...so preschool for middle class children whose parents choose it is a start to something.

 

grandma B

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