Democrats love universal pre-K — and don’t seem to care that it may not work – The Washington Post

We must ensure that parents have choices when it comes to pre-K education for their kids.

Excellent article by Kevin Huffman, a fellow with New America and  commissioner of education in Tennessee from 2011 to 2015.  Democrats love universal pre-K — and don’t seem to care that it may not work – The Washington Post

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have spent the past six years comparing cohorts of Tennessee pre-K students with their peers who applied to the statewide pre-K program but were lotteried out. The results are not stellar. The pre-K students entered kindergarten with a decided advantage over the comparison group, but that advantage diminished over time. By the time the children reached third grade, the pre-K attendees actually underperformed the comparison group.


As the state’s education commissioner from 2011 to January 2015, I can’t help being disappointed. Low-income children in Tennessee struggle in school, and like many, I have been hopeful that the school-based pre-K program would boost achievement and, eventually, be expanded…

We should consider a wider range of interventions. I would love to see apolitical research comparing school-based pre-K, private day care, church preschool and Head Start. In the same way that public charter schools have become an important addition to traditional public schools, are there ways to let dollars flow to early childhood programs based on effectiveness?Instead of advocating for universal school-based pre-K, let’s advocate for 3- and 4-year-old children and be open to different possibilities. If our goal is to help them rather than simply to add another grade level onto our public schools, then let’s stop demonizing opposition to pre-K, attacking the bearers of bad news and making pre-K just another tool of partisan orthodoxy. We owe it to our low-income families and the schools that ultimately serve them.