President Obama's call for expanded Pre-K education has drawn a widespread, but factually challenged, retort from the radical right. Rich Lowry wrote about it for National Review; Charles Murray at Bloomberg. Brad Jackson chatted about it on redstate.com. Our own Greg Johnson this week parroted the claims in a News Sentinel column.
In one form or another they mention a recent government report and claim it shows pre-K a failure. So I tracked down the report, and give its full citation below. In short, the report reveals nothing like the cherry-picked sentences Johnson and others cited.
The research compares Head Start to non-Head Start pre-K options. The introduction (p. xvii) makes it clear that the study looked at three- and four-year-olds randomly assigned to Head Start "or to a control group that could receive any other non-Head Start services chosen by their parents." In short, this was a comparison of the benefits of one type of pre-K to other types of pre-K. The authors themselves, if one reads to the discussion section at the end of the document (p. 152), do not doubt the long-term benefits of early childhood education.
Let's hope this factual correction somehow can keep pace with the widespread falsehood replicated this week in our own News Sentinel.
Mike Puma, Stephen Bell, Ronna Cook, Camilla Heid, Pam Broene, Frank Jenkins, Andrew Mashburn, and Jason Downer (2012). Third Grade Follow-up to the Head Start Impact Study Final Report, OPRE Report # 2012-45, Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children
and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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