State-Run Preschool Doesn’t Make the Grade

Cato has a new policy report, as well as a recent blog post which sums up the arguments, on why large-scale government preschool programs are not what advocates make them out to be.

As they note, claims about benefits of preschool (participants have higher academic performance, reduced likelihood of going to prison or being on welfare), are based on studies from the 1960s and 70s.  These studies don’t apply to large state preschool programs being debated today, as they were extremely small programs served students with severe special needs, and included decades of additional intervention.

In contrast, universal preschool and large-scale programs for moderate-income families have been around for decades, with few positive results.  Head Start and universal preschool in Georgia and Oklahoma have not improved academic performance (any gains disappear after a few years), but have cost taxpayers billions.