Earlier this week I was asked to comment on a new study of an old preschool program. The program in question is one of three well known (but geographically limited and now defunct) programs that have been found to have had lasting positive effects on participants. From their results, the authors concluded that the “impacts which endured [from the Chicago Parent Center program] provide a strong foundation for the investment in and promotion of early childhood learning.” By “investment” they seem to mean either state or federal government spending on pre-K programs.
Here's the thing: yet another study of one of the few isolated programs already known to have had a lasting impact does nothing to support large-scale government pre-K programs. That's because we have mountains of very good research that the signature federal pre-K program, Head Start, has been a failure despite nearly half a century of effort and hundreds of billions of dollars in spending. Even the Department of Health and Human Service's own top-flight, large sample, nationally representative, randomized experimental study revealed that its impact doesn't even endure beyond the first grade.
Kudos to the reporter for being open to this cold splash of reality. But here's where the title of this blog post comes in... when it ran the story, the website of U.S. News and World Report adds the following postscript:
For more information on early childhood education, visit the National Education Association.
Gee, I wonder if a national teacher labor union would support the massive expansion of federal funding for... teaching labor? Does USNews.com really not know how ridiculous this makes them look?