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Letters to the Editor re: “Protect Our Kids from Preschool” (WSJ)

Resource type: News

Wall Street Journal |

Original Article Source Joint Pre-K Now/Pew letter to the editor, submitted but not yet published Protect our kids from preschool (August 22, 2008) misrepresents decades of research on the lasting benefits of quality pre-k-research that has been accepted by academics and policy makers across the political spectrum. To support their argument, the authors cherry pick data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Contrary to their claim, 4th grade NAEP scores rose in Georgia from 1992 to 2007. A national study by RAND in 2000 found that preschool was one of a number of factors that contributed to higher NAEP scores across the country. More importantly, rigorous studies like the five-year evaluation of pre-k in Tulsa, published in the journal Science, found significant positive impacts of Oklahoma’s program for disadvantaged and middle class children. These findings are similar to decades of research in peer-reviewed journals. A summary of 123 preschool studies spanning 40 years, forthcoming in Teachers College Record, finds significant and long-lasting effects; the more rigorous the study, the larger the impacts. Few other educational reform measures have been scrutinized more intensively. Finally, the authors suggest that support for pre-k is limited to Democrats. In fact, pre-k has strong bipartisan support because it delivers such a substantial return on investment. This year, with leadership from both Republican and Democratic governors, 32 states are increasing their investment in pre-k by more than $300 million. Children don’t need protection from pre-k. Their parents-and the public-deserve protection from such reckless disregard for the facts. Susan Urahn Managing Director Pew Center on the States Libby Doggett Executive Director Pre-K Now ________________________________________ Heckman/Schweinhart letter to the editor Shiksa Dalmia and Lisa Snell of the Reason Foundation expressed their opinion in the August 22 edition of this newspaper that preschool education is not a worthwhile investment. Unfortunately, in making their case, they distorted the research that supports this investment, particularly the study of the High/Scope Perry Preschool program in Ypsilanti, Michigan. They claim that many of the parents of the children in this study were drug addicts and neglectful. There is no evidence for this claim. They claim that one of us (Heckman) found that the Michigan program produced a 16-cent return on every dollar spent not even remotely close to the $10 return. Heckman’s actual statement was that the program produced a 16-cent return on the dollar every year of the lives of the participants. Further analysis suggests a 10% return per year, which is still very large and comparable to a total $10 return per dollar invested. High-quality, interactive preschool programs can help prevent intractable national problems, such as crime and unemployment. Rather than denying this fact, we need to take advantage of it. Lawrence J. Schweinhart High/Scope Educational Research Foundation Ypsilanti, MI James J. Heckman University of Chicago

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