Tag: universal preschool

President Obama and the Case of the Missing Research

One of President Obama’s favorite rhetorical tactics is to claim that there is no serious evidence pointing in any direction other than his preferred policy. The president had occasion to deploy this tactic in an interview earlier this week, when Bill O’Reilly asked him why he opposed school vouchers:

O’REILLY - The secret to getting a … good job is education. … Now, school vouchers is a way to level the playing field. Why do you oppose school vouchers when it would give poor people a chance to go to better schools?

PRESIDENT OBAMA - Actually — every study that’s been done on school vouchers, Bill, says that it has very limited impact if any —

O’REILLY - Try it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA - On — it has been tried, it’s been tried in Milwaukee, it’s been tried right here in DC —

O’REILLY [OVERLAP] - And it worked here.

PRESIDENT OBAMA - No, actually it didn’t. When you end up taking a look at it, it didn’t actually make that much of a difference. ... As a general proposition, vouchers has not significantly improved the performance of kids that are in these poorest communities —

The most charitable interpretation of the president’s blatantly false remarks is that he’s simply unaware that 11 of 12 gold-standard studies of school choice programs found a positive impact while only one found no statistically significant difference and none found a negative outcome. Jason Riley summarized the findings of a few recent studies:

Good Reporting Requires a Critical Eye

Preschool access and attendance is often presented as an unalloyed good that will bring a huge return on investment. It’s not, and there’s little evidence that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Yet the Washington Post brings us a story about the push for state preschool expansion with nothing but supporters of government finance and controlled preschool and no critical treatment of the supposed evidence offered by those proponents.

I strongly urge the media to talk to some folks who have a critical take of the push for universal preschool when they write an article. What they write might then read like a news story rather than a press release from Pew.