Independent Womens Forum
Published on August 26, 2014
102 — LEAN TOGETHER passed in January 2014, including some $250 million for states to expand preschool through the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, along with an additional $600 million for the country’s longest-running preschool program, Head Start. 2 Now Obama says those amounts are simply a “down payment.” He has proposed spending $75 billion over the next decade so all four-year- olds can attend government preschool programs. Obama also wants to spend an additional $750 million over the next year on grants for states and localities to expand their preschool programs. 3 The rationale behind this latest preschool push, however, is deeply awed. Last summer, Pelosi insisted that America has an early child care and education “crisis” that threatens our economy. 4 For the past two years Obama has also been adamant that expanding government preschool is critical to expanding the middle class and the economy. 5 A majority of American mothers with preschool age children are in the labor force, and most of these working moms hold full-time jobs. Yet there is little evidence that expanding the federal government’s role in providing early child care and education would improve the quality of care, student learning, or affordability—much less the economy. On the contrary, expanding government’s role in this arena is more likely to impose expensive administrative burdens, crowd out innovative, personalized non-government early childcare providers, and replace a variety of early education options with a one-size-ts-all system. According to the government’s own ofcial evaluations of its longest-running early education program, Head Start, any learning gains quickly dissipate. Given government’s poor track record in both K-12 and preprimary schooling, government’s involvement should be scaled back, not expanded. And as for the economy, it’s worth noting that in spite of near universal child care, most European countries have anemic economic performance compared to the United States. Most fundamentally, the federal government has no constitutional authority over the care and education of children. That responsibility belongs to parents, who know and love their preschoolers best.