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Kids as Investments

October 30, 2003

Every year or so the Baby Ed advocates show up lobbying the legislatures of every state. They're backed by well funded foundations and non-governmental organizations (NGO's) with a political agenda in mind. (See our background articles on "Baby Ed")

A new offensive has been launched for the same old drive to establish a state education system for our youngest children. The arguments are always couched as rescue efforts for the most difficult cases, but the solution ends up being programs for all. First it's all of the "economically disadvantaged," and then it's every child.

The MN legislative session of 2001 brought a nearly 1/2 billion dollar proposal, "The Action Plan for Early Care and Education in Minnesota," that would have established a comprehensive Early Childhood Education (ECE) "system" in Minnesota, complete with assessment measures. It was intended for "every child." In their own words it would "tie the two worlds of pre-K and K-12 together systemically and universally."

It would have established an appointed "School Readiness Council in every school district to oversee preschool needs in the district, under the supervision of the state. Their promo material stated that the School Readiness system "is universal and targets 0 to 5 year olds," "links the full K-12 system to the pre-K system" and "establishes a universal mechanism, such as the School Readiness Council." (See our update, "Goal 1 of Goals 2000 comes to MN legislature")

It didn't fly, in spite of the usual outpouring of one-sided free publicity by media outlets and the excessively funded private foundations with a Baby Ed agenda. But the 2001 program tells us exactly where they're ultimately headed.

This year they're back with the Federal Reserve lobbying business executives that Early Childhood curriculum is a good investment for their bottom line. The Federal Reserve takes children as "human resources" to a new low, planning futures of our children in terms no different from capital resources or natural resources. It's their school-to-work strategy -- get them early, mold them in the image of a useful commodity, and earn big bucks.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press featured the story on October 24th, 'Invest in kids' taken literally'; economists say, "early-childhood programs offers great returns and may be the best form of economic development." It's preschool -- for all low-income kids in Minnesota.

There they go again. Following is information published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Tuesday, October 28th that takes issue with this approach to child rearing. It's appropriate for use in every state.

We have included the entire article below, placing in brackets the important back-up data that was edited out by the newspaper in their published version:

Preschool ed is expensive, ineffective
BY DR. KAREN R. EFFREM
Guest Columnist

Here is a one-question history quiz: How many nations in the history of the world have maintained liberty and free markets when the government has taken over the education of children at birth or early childhood? Answer: None.

Here is a one-question sociology quiz: What percentage of Swedish children is cared for at home by their parents after the first year of life? Answer: One percent.

Apparently "Economic Development Initiatives" advanced by the Federal Reserve wish to ignore history with their push to expand taxpayer funded babysitting centers.

Contrary to the Federal Reserves praises for these programs, scholars debate their social gains as "fall[ing] short of statistical significance," and even if they are significant, require so much in the way of funding and personnel, that they could not realistically be reproduced on a massive scale.

The Perry Preschool Project in particular has multiple problems that are rarely mentioned, if at all, by advocates of publicly funded daycare. The program has never been replicated. It was for severely disadvantaged children in danger of "retarded intellectual functioning," so its results should not be generalized to all children. Perry children may have done better compared to controls, but compared to mainstream children, they still did quite poorly.

The following bracketed information was not included in the published article.

[Child development expert Charles Locuto stated in the journal "Intelligence," "Preschool children were more likely to have been placed in remedial education. By age 19, they were unemployed at a rate equal to that of their control-group counterparts."

[Edward Ziglar, co-founder of Head Start, said of Perry, "[The Perry sample] was not only nonrepresentative of children in general; there is some doubt that it was representative of even the bulk of economically disadvantaged children. . The Perry Project poses a number of methodological difficulties."

[Ziglar also said, "This is not the first time universal preschool education has been proposed. . . . Then, as now, the arguments in favor of preschool education were that it would reduce school failure, lower dropout rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates. . . .Preschool education will achieve none of these results... "]

These programs are very expensive and do not work.

The state of Georgia found that despite universal preschool for 4 year olds, there were no differences in standardized test scores between children receiving preschool and those who did not and no changes in scores since before implementation. The taxpayers have spent close to $50 billion during 37 years on 20 million children and paid for or reviewed more than 600 studies on Head Start and there is no long-term improvement in academic achievement, IQ, school readiness, social behavior or self-esteem. Minnesota's own Legislative Auditor, in 2001, found no positive effect of any preschool program, but he did find evidence of fiscal mismanagement.

Besides the high cost, in this high taxed state, at a time of deficits, these programs have other expenses. The rates of infectious diseases are higher in children in group care situations, often resulting in community spread of infection. Parental authority is usurped and the parent-child bond is disrupted.

A 2002 study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) followed a group of more than 1,300 children in 10 different states through their first seven years of life. They found that children who spend more hours per week in non-parental childcare have more behavior problems, including aggressive, defiant and disobedient behavior in kindergarten.

Poor children, many from single-parent families, do not need disruption of the bond with their remaining parent by programs that are ineffective, invasive, and expensive. Children are not just "human resources" from whom government and big business should receive "return on investment."

The following bracketed information was not included in the published article.

[The Federal Reserve should not use the hard cases of a few to justify an expensive and inferior system for all or most poor children. The Federal Reserve should instead find ways to encourage marriage of parents with mentoring by community elders and nurture of children by their own parents, not state institutions.

[Raisa Gorbachev admitted to Nancy Reagan in 1988, 'we could have handled this better,' she said. 'We always provided day care in the mother's workplace, but now I think it might have made more sense to keep the child at home for the first few years.']

We must remember that government run economic development programs of any kind have never worked very well, if at all. Let us learn from the mistakes of societies that have been foolish enough to try this before.

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