Matt Mackowiak

The agency updated this study in October 2012, waiting to release it until after Obama's reelection. The findings were the same, as Mary Katharine Ham notes on the widely read national conservative blog Hot Air. Ham summarizes the study thusly: "The theme of this evaluation is 'no statistically measurable effect,' and what tiny positive effects there are among subgroups in behavioral and parental improvements are outweighed by statistically measurable harmful impacts in others. This is not a wise way to spend billions of dollars."

In December 2008, Stanford University's Maria Donovan Fitzpatrick completed an exhaustive study of Georgia's pre-K program. Her conclusion: "The results of the study and its cost benefit analysis indicate scarce public funds may be used more efficiently by implementing targeted strategies in the design of pre-K programs, perhaps by using observable characteristics like the income of families or the population density in school districts."

Vanderbilt University just completed a similar study, of which the Brookings Institution's Russ Whitehurst says, "The most defensible conclusion is that these statewide programs are not working to meaningfully increase the academic achievement or social/emotional skills and dispositions of children from low-income families."

Where are the positive studies, you ask? They are three and four decades old, for the most part. More recent studies are very narrow and study small programs that would be impossible to replicate on a national scale.

Where does this leave us? It is easy to demagogue universal pre-K, and Democratic politicians are doing so everywhere. But before we start a new entitlement that will never die, we should evaluate what we have now. Can anyone say taxpayers got $180 billion in benefit from Head Start over the past 50 years?

Whitehurst also said this: "Maybe we should figure out how to deliver effective programs before the federal government funds preschool for all."

Matt Mackowiak

Matt Mackowiak is a Washington, DC and Austin, TX based political and communications consultant and the founder and President of Potomac Strategy Group, LLC, providing political consulting, media relations and crisis communications assistance to campaigns, companies, groups and individuals. Since he arrived in Washington, DC, he has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators, a Governor, in the executive branch, in winning political campaigns, and in the private sector. Over his career Matt has developed deep relationships with national, state and local media and political figures.

Most recently Matt worked with PSG client Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) as a senior communications adviser, providing counsel on strategy, speechwriting and media relations during the 2011 legislative session in Juneau.

In 2010 Matt served as Campaign Manager for Bill Flores, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 17th Congressional District. After winning a 5-way primary, Flores defeated 10-term incumbent Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) by 25% in November, the largest margin of victory for a GOP challenger in 2010.

In addition to offering counsel to individuals and corporations, Matt provides political analysis for the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, ABC News, CBS News, BBC News, and radio stations throughout the country. Matt’s on-therecord political analysis has appeared in Politico, the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bloomberg News, The Hill, Congressional Quarterly, the Washington Examiner, the Dallas Morning News, the Houston Chronicle, and on He is a syndicated columnist and has had opinion columns published in the New York Post, New York Daily News,, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Politico, Roll Call, Austin American-Statesman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Des Moines Register, National Review online, Congressional Quarterly and on the popular blog sites The Daily Beast and The Huffington Post. Matt has lectured and given speeches at the University of Illinois, the University of Texas, Texas Christian University, Georgetown University, Catholic University, the University of Denver, American University and the University of North Texas.

From 2005-2009 Matt served as Press Secretary to U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (RTX), the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership, and three-term former U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT). Earlier in his career he was a political appointee at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for Under Secretary Asa Hutchinson and Assistant Secretary Stewart Verdery, managed the second largest county in Iowa on the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, counseled corporate clients at international PR firm Burson-Marsteller, and performed White House Presidential and Vice Presidential advance nationwide.

Matt is a Director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, and is a sustaining member of MaverickPAC. He serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for the non-profit Luke’s Wings and enjoys helping Becky’s Fund and USA CARES.

A native of Austin, Texas, Matt graduated with a B.S. in Communications Studies (Political Communication track) from the University of Texas in 2003. Aside from his professional work, he owns and manages the popular blog site, which the Washingtonian has called “one of the best political blogs.” In his free time, Matt enjoys sports, live music, reading biographies, and is an avid supporter of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the University of Texas.