Will Government-Run Preschool Help Fight Al-Qaeda?

The Patriot News has a blurb about former generals saying that government-run preschool will help improve the military, and that if the Pennsylvania Senate budget passes, the terrorists will win. The former general quoted also happens to be a current school superintendent – which would be like me saying, “As a former child, I think that to help the children, you should give money to the Commonwealth Foundation.

The idea behind this absurd rhetoric is, “The lack of a high school diploma and a criminal record are among the reasons why 75 percent of men and women age 17 to 24 are unfit to serve in the military” and government-run preschool would improve graduation rates and reduce crime.

But, while we might agree with the problems, government preschool does not improve graduation or crime rates, or even test scores or school attendance beyond 3rd grade. As we wrote in a 2007 policy brief, the effects of preschool programs are overstated and are nonexistent after a few years. Subsequent research further supports that conclusion.