Saturday, February 23, 2013

Universal preschool would help many rural areas, but Obama overstates the potential benefits

Providing preschool education to every American child would be a great boon to rural areas, which often lack it, but President Obama "exaggerates the potential benefits," said this week:
  • Obama says every dollar invested in "high quality" preschool can return "seven dollars later on" but that is based on an economic analysis of a small, two-year program that targeted disadvantaged youth in Michigan. Obama is proposing a one-year program for "every single child in America."
  • Obama also points to the success of universal preschool programs in Georgia and Oklahoma, saying "studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own." But the oldest students from the Georgia program — the first state to offer universal preschool — are now just 20 years old, and those in Oklahoma are even younger. So proclamations about the ability to hold jobs or form more stable families, for example, are premature.
For the full analysis and background, click here.

UPDATE, Feb. 26: "Studies suggest the power of well-funded programs targeting specific communities. Still, questions remain about the ability to scale and generalize these benefits nationwide through expanded policy," concludes Journalist's Resource, a service of the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University.

1 comment:

Michele Hays said...

I take some issue with your phrasing: that isn't "overstating the potential benefits."

We don't know the potential benefits in either direction; Obama is making an assumption. Benefits could potentially be either better or worse than he stated.