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"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandela

Another Pre-K Study Shows Negative Impact Upon Children

By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. |  November 3, 2015 National Center for Policy Analysis   

The latest evidence that government pre-K has negative effects upon children is found in the recently published study by Vanderbilt University on the scaled up program in Tennessee. 

The full-day pre-kindergarten program is for at-risk students whose families qualify for free or reduced lunches. The Tennessee program is nearly identical to those implemented in other states, meeting the majority of benchmarks outlined by the National Institute for Early Education Research.

The study included two groups -- participants and non-participants in the pre-K program -- with each beginning at the same level of academic ability.

By the end of the year, the participants were significantly ahead of those who did not participate, with higher scores in literacy, language, and mathematics. By the end of the first grade, the two groups were again equal in their achievement scores.  By the end of the third grade, the performance of the participants was lower than that of the non-participants, both academically and socially.

The results of the Vanderbilt study align almost perfectly with those of the Head Start Impact Study.

Pre-K advocates claim that early intervention will help solve the criminal problems of society.  Yet the 1960s HighScope Preschool Curriculum Comparison Study (PCCS) for low-income children shows that, by age 23, participants showed serious overall development, with 34 percent having been arrested for a felony offense.

Play-based kindergartens, and now even preschools, have been replaced largely by formal academic drilling and testing. Researchers, who have studied the effects of the daily drilling of literacy and math skills to make young children develop faster, have found both creativity and curiosity to be negatively affected.  Since 1990, the Torrance scores for creative ability have been falling for Americans with the decline being most serious for younger children in K-6.

The stifling of creativity and curiosity in young children makes teaching them advanced math and science later much more difficult. This has an impact upon their careers and upon our nation’s supply of skilled talent to grow our national economy. 

Children thrive best when they are reared by biological parents. Yet the federal government’s change in Aid to Families with Dependent Children has led to the destruction of black marriages, resulting in a high rate of illegitimacy with single parent families and increased poverty.  The Vanderbilt study notes that increasing numbers of children are living in poverty, which is having immediate and long lasting consequences for them.

It is unwise to place fragile at-risk children in government pre-K programs that can further impact them negatively. A better solution is to end government policies that are destructive to family relationships and financial well-being.  As a nation, we must support healthy in-tact families and in-home early care.  If children must be cared for outside of the home, then school choice should be extended to include early care.

Copyright 2015 Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. All rights reserved

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