During his State of the Union address this month, President Obama called for a universal preschool program. The idea is that widespread preschool will boost students’ educational achievements later in life.
The fact is, however, that universal preschool–which is on the books in Georgia and Oklahoma–is costly and has not been demonstrated to improve educational achievement.
The Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke explains that these programs don’t raise test scores as liberals suppose. “In fact, in Oklahoma, fourth-grade reading test scores have declined since 1998, when the state first implemented universal preschool,” Burke explains.
Despite the lack of educational benefit, a universal preschool program would be expensive–driving more debt, tax increases, or both. In Georgia, Burke reports, the state “spends heavily on early childhood education, over $355 million in 2011.” America can’t afford this kind of spending with nothing to show for it.
Georgia and Oklahoma should provide a cautionary note to proponents of government preschool. The experiences of these two states cast doubt that a federal universal preschool would yield the significant long-term benefits that supporters promise.
What is your take on universal preschool? Should Congress act to support a universal preschool system? Tell us in the comments below.