New Study: Sesame Street most affordable early childhood intervention ever

If there’s one thing liberals love it’s new government programs. More government spending leads to government agencies and employees, both of which are difficult to get rid of. Predominantly unionized government workers are even better because their dues can be used to elect politicians who further expand the size and scope of government.

These are some of the reasons why the left in New Mexico has rallied so strongly around universal pre-K.

Fortunately for taxpayers (albeit unfortunately for advocates of big-government), a new study has found that the television show “Sesame Street is one of the largest and most affordable early childhood interventions ever to take place.” See a shorter article on the new study from the Washington Post.

Among the study’s other findings:

• The introduction of Sesame Street to America’s preschoolers helped a generation of kids do better in school. When the show first aired in 1969, five million children watched a typical episode—the preschool equivalent of a Super Bowl every day.

• Boys and black, non-Hispanic children experienced the biggest improvements in school performance.

• Effects are largest for children living in economically disadvantaged areas.

Given annual expected costs (likely to rise dramatically) starting at $180 million annually, pre-k for all is a very expensive means of slightly (and temporarily) improving the educational outcomes of young children. Those are scarce dollars that could be used elsewhere, returned to overburdened taxpayers, or used elsewhere to improve educational outcomes. Obviously, Sesame Street is virtually free and even an educational campaign encouraging parents to expose their children to it could be introduced for pennies on the dollar of what a pre-k program would cost.

Unfortunately, many pre-k advocates want more government for reasons that have nothing to do with helping children. They are unlikely to be deterred by more cost-effective options.