Early education advocates want you to believe that the case for universal preschool is so airtight that raising any questions about it is an act of heresy. But there is a strong and growing body of literature showing that preschool produces virtually no lasting benefits for the majority of kids.
Proponents of universal preschool claim that when kids attend quality preschools, they grow up to be smarter, richer and more law-abiding. But this is a fairy tale not based on research.
More kids who attend preschool enter kindergarten knowing their ABCs and counting their numbers than their stay-at-home peers, it is true. But these gains fade, as study after study has shown.
Consider Oklahoma and Georgia, two states that have spent billions implementing universal preschool. Georgia’s fourth-grade National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading score in 1992, when it embraced universal preschool, was 212 – three points below the national average. Last year, after years of universal preschool, it was 219 – still one point below the national average. Its math score was three points below the average in 1992. Last year, it was 235 – four points below the national average.