Feb 24 2013
10:21 am

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 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.

Full cite:
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.

CE Petro's picture

What truly irks me about the

What truly irks me about the Greg Johnson hit-piece is that the KNS leaves it linked, up in the corner of the online front page for the whole weekend. (They seem to do that sort of stunt regularly -- linking to a piece of factually challenged garbage meant to incite the readership.)

I don't doubt the validity of pre-K being successful. I was a child of the pre-K experience, long before pre-K was touted as beneficial and long before Head Start, which perhaps makes me a little biased.

jmcnair's picture


Reality (like education and intelligence) _does_ have a liberal bias.

CE Petro's picture


Love this -- that would make a fabulous tag-line!

My only problem with school-settings was sitting in class and following someone's prescribed syllabus. In many instances, I would be interested by sections of a course, which I wanted to know more -- yet, only a handful of teachers I had over the years encouraged me to follow those desires to learn more, and the majority of those teachers were in my early years, very few from 8th grade on up. Once I got past formal schooling, I was free to follow my head.

Let me rephrase my original statement a little -- early education plus encouraging teachers does work!

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