Now we are dismayed to learn from Politico that a dozen Republican-governed states are expanding state-based pre-K programs or are planning to do so next year. And in Washington, some Republicans are offering bipartisan support to a pre-K bill drafted by two of the Congress' biggest liberals, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), both of whom are retiring at the end of this year.
Why are these Republicans willing to accept Obama's claim that pre-K "works" by producing big benefits in a child's later life? In fact, the science tells us that pre-K provides, at best, a small temporary benefit that cannot be measured beyond the third grade.
And those small temporary benefits were found only among low-income or at-risk children. There is no science that even pretends to show that middle-class kids benefit from attending preschool instead of being cared for by their mothers at home.
These Republican governors seem to think they can defeat the Democrats by adopting one of Obama's favorite programs, pre-K, which he has urged for years without success. Despite the high profile of these Republican pre-K salesmen, we still haven't seen any evidence that pre-K benefits children or accomplishes any of the goals it promises. Like the classic TV ad, I ask, where's the beef?
They don't call it daycare anymore, and of course they don't call it babysitting, which it really is. The new gimmick label is pre-K, meaning before kindergarten.
The daycare advocates like to cite as models for success the so-called Perry Preschool Project and the Abecedarian Project. Those two projects took place a half century ago and used highly trained teachers under optimum conditions.
One project treated only 58 3- and 4-year-old children, and the other only 57. The Perry favorable results have never been replicated despite many subsequent attempts, so that study is not scientifically credible.
The proclaimed purpose of pre-K is to close the gap between kids from high-income and low-income households. There is no evidence that pre-K can accomplish that.
The liberals like to say that pre-K "investments" (that's the liberals' synonym for taxes) save money later on. All studies show that Head Start and all the early interventions do not achieve what they promise, and they "fade out" at least by the third grade.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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