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Monday, July 28, 2008

Educrats Still Pushing for Universal Preschool

The issue of universal preschool has been recurring in South Dakota for about three years now.

Today, the Argus Leader reports that a Stanford professor says studies don't support a full-scale program:

Erik Hanushek, a Stanford professor who is among expert witnesses for the state in a school-aid lawsuit, seems lukewarm about the value of preschool, which he admits is "complicated."

"There are some good but very small-scale studies showing positive effects of preschool," Hanushek said in an e-mail exchange. "Most of the positive effects, however, are not educational improvements but reductions in crime and incarceration. These might well be good investments for society, but they do not solve the education problem."

So is there any developmental bang-for-the-buck? Despite the claims of proponents, it doesn't look like it.

An article from LifeSite last year said this:
A six year comparison of almost 35,000 children has shown that there has been no change in developmental levels of pupils entering primary school in this period, despite the introduction of several new early years' initiatives over the past decade, new research from Durham University's Curriculum, Evaluation and Management (CEM) Centre reveals.

So this six year study of 35,000 children found no change in developmental levels, no improvement in development.

But other, less desirable changes have been found from preschool exposure.

A study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in 2003
found 17% of daycare children more aggressive, disobedient and more engaged in conflict, regardless of family background, quality or type of care and temperament.

ABC carried a story on behavioral problems several months ago:
Janine Butler, a 28-year-old New Jersey teacher, knows something about out-of-control students.

One girl threw objects, threatened Butler with knives and tried to bite her. Another boy was "just rude, rude, rude," pulling down his pants and swearing at her. The final straw came when another student scratched and hit her.

Butler's students were barely out of diapers — 3- and 4-year-olds — and their public preschool in Trenton was not allowed to expel them.

"No one would do anything," said Butler, who eventually quit. "I felt alone."

Tantrums, aggression, biting and kicking are becoming increasingly common in preschool, according to child development specialists.

Another study from the University of Minnesota found that, based on levels of the stress-sensitive hormone cortisol, shy children suffer increased levels of stress while in full time daycare.

A 2001 study found that the more time children spent in daycare, the more aggressive, disobedient, and defiant they became.

Cindy Flakoll of Concerned Women for America - South Dakota did a couple of pieces on the pre-k problem last year. She also pointed out studies supporting the benefits of pre-k haven't been able to be replicated, and that most research doesn't support any sort of long-lasting academic benefit from preschool. In the end, taxpayers get taken for a ride that goes nowhere.

Despite headlines, universal pre-k hasn't received much support from Rapid City-area legislators, or from most other South Dakota legislators. Still, proponents have made a run for it in the last two legislative sessions, and my sources tell me those pushing pre-k are even now trying to get their ducks in a row for another push in the 2009 legislature.

The South Dakota Family Policy Council's 2008 primary Voter Guide examined the pre-k issue. Not all of the respondents survived the primary, but you might want to check the guide to see where those that did are on the issue.

It seems the only people in South Dakota really pushing pre-k are the liberal "mainstream" media and edu-crats who stand to gain financially from more taxpayer largess.

The taxpayers have too much to lose on a scheme that lacks foundation. Parents also have too much to lose by placing their young children in an environment where they may develop behavioral problems and end up with unhealthy aggression.


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