Gail Collins believes it’s long past time for government to do more to subsidize preschool, as President Obama suggested during the State of the Union. Her big regret is that this wasn’t accomplished in the early 1970s, when it was being advanced by Walter Mondale. As Collins writes about this topic, she refers to these government proposals as part of the “drive to make quality preschool education available to every family in the United States.”
Because it’s just that easy, right?
Where does Collins—and Obama for that matter—get the child-like faith that somehow getting the federal government more involved in the preschool business will actually lead to better educational options and outcomes for American children?
Certainly, it cannot be from our existing K-12 public education system. Funding has soared for our country’s K-12 schools, and the federal government’s involvement in setting standards and providing support for other services has grown in tandem. Meanwhile, standardized test scores and graduation rates remain stuck at mediocre levels nationally, and at worse than abysmal for many urban districts.
Collins also doesn’t mention that for decades the federal government has been in the business of subsidizing preschool for low-income families—presumably the families Collins is most concerned about since she casts federally-supported preschool as the panacea for solving the problem of upward mobility—through Head Start. It’s no wonder why she avoids the Head Start topic. Government studies show that, in spite of billions of taxpayer dollars and the creation of another robust government bureaucracy, Head Start has essentially no lasting benefits for those who enroll.