As we move beyond a contentious series of primaries in both parties and look to the fall election, it worth highlighting one of the big issues on the fall ballot: the plan to “tap” New Mexico’s permanent fund to provide universal preschool.
As written, voters will decide whether to: “allocate 1.25% of the five-year average of year-end market values of the money in the Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) to early childhood education…” The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) estimated that the additional allocation would be about $245.7 million in fiscal year 2023. Of that total, $126.9 million would be allocated for early childhood education, $84.6 million to public education, and $34.2 million for the LGPF’s other beneficiaries.
The advocates’ plan is to provide “free,” “universal” pre-K to all New Mexico 3 and 4 year olds.
But, while advocates and supporters tout all kinds of supposed benefits of government-funded pre-K, the best available study of the issue (involving a randomized control) of a similar program that has been in place for years in Tennessee found pre-K actually had NEGATIVE impacts on children.
According to the study, “Children who attended Tennessee’s state-funded voluntary pre-K program during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years were doing worse than their peers by the end of sixth grade in academic achievement, discipline issues and special education referrals. The trend emerged by the end of third grade and was even more pronounced three years later.” The following quotes from one of the study authors:
“[We] have let ourselves get into the idea that what these children need is a lot more academic instruction.” Farran said. “And I would say, no, it’s just the opposite. What you would like to give poor children is a feeling of being cared for and being successful.”
While other pre-K studies often seem to show positive results from massive government “investment” in pre-K programs, few of those studies feature a control group. Studies supporting pre-K in New Mexico and elsewhere simply compare voluntarily participating and non-participating students, not those chosen randomly.
3 Replies to “The best study of pre-K indicates it HARMS children”
I agree with Dale Farran.
Also, eliminate the Federal Department of Education.
Before the Department of Education started operating in 1980, America was number one in education and now we are about 25th to 30th in most subjects.
The study in Tennessee does not reflect the true benefits of Pre-K. I teach pre-k in Georgia, while my sister teaches pre-k in Tennessee. She was actually part of this study. The programs are vastly different. Georgia Pre-k is funded by the lottery. Tennessee does not seem to have a good understanding of the purpose of the program. They also seem to cut funding when ever possible, and feel it is appropriate to have 3 year old special needs students in the same class as 4 year old children for which the program was intended. Georgia Pre-K is open to all students while Tennessee is only open to children who meet low income requirements.
Whatis your point on the merits of the program?