For years, local, state, and federal governments and diverse private sources have funded early intervention programs for low-income children, and benefits to the children have been few and fleeting. There is also evidence that middle-class children gain little, if anything, from preschool. Benefits to children in public preschools are unlikely to be greater or more enduring.

Public preschool for younger children is irresponsible, given the failure of the public school system to educate the children currently enrolled. The desire to “do something” for young children should be tempered by the facts, and proposals for universal preschool should be rejected.

More on Early Childhood


Virginia Considers Making Parents Train for 30 Hours to Help at Their Kids’ Preschool

By Ilya Shapiro. The Federalist. July 16, 2018.

We Have No Idea if Universal Preschool Actually Helps Kids

By David J. Armor. Washington Post. October 21, 2014.

At Last, Parent Resistance to Collective Standardized Tests

By Nat Hentoff. January 15, 2014.

Cato Studies

The Evidence on Universal Preschool

By David J. Armor. Policy Analysis No. 760. October 15, 2014.

The Poverty of Preschool Promises: Saving Children and Money with the Early Education Tax Credit

By Adam B. Schaeffer. Policy Analysis No. 641. August 3, 2009.

Universal Preschool Is No Golden Ticket: Why Government Should Not Enter the Preschool Business

By Darcy Ann Olsen. Policy Analysis No. 333. February 9, 1999.

Public Filings

Child Care

By Darcy Ann Olsen. Testimony. February 23, 1998.

Cato Reviews & Journals

49. Pre-K Education

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

47. K-12 Education

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert Putnam

Matt Warner. Cato Journal. Winter 2016.


Quit Bubble-Wrapping Our Kids!

Featuring Walter Olson. March 6, 2014. Policy Forum.

Preschool Education: What the Research Says

Featuring Neal McCluskey. January 7, 2014. Policy Forum.

The Beautiful Tree: A Personal Journey into How the World’s Poorest People Are Educating Themselves

Featuring Neal McCluskey. October 7, 2013. Book Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Head Start and Other Subsidies

By Tad DeHaven. September 2010.