Last week, U.S. Sen. and Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton unveiled a new proposal to fund state pre-kindergarten programs for all 4-year-old children in America. Calling the benefits of these pre-kindergarten programs “astonishing,” Clinton claimed such programs would not only reduce child behavioral problems, but would also make children less likely to enter special education programs, drop out of school or enter the welfare system.
However, pre-kindergarten programs have been around for many years, and such grandiose claims have been refuted by several studies on the effectiveness of such programs. The truth is government-run pre-kindergarten programs are another huge burden on taxpayers, and, in fact, they are detrimental to children and our country.
Proponents of universal pre-kindergarten offer early childhood education as a remedy for declining test scores and repeated poor showings in academic comparisons to students in other countries. They claim that by starting public education at age 3 or 4 rather than 5 or 6, children will enter kindergarten with better reading, language, math, cognitive and social skills, they score better on standardized tests, and they are more likely to mature into responsible citizens – likelier to be married, with higher education attainment and better-paying jobs.
Such vivid speculation has been disproved by independent studies that actually find little or no difference between the academic, social and intellectual development of children who attend such programs and those who do not. Even those studies that have measured some positive effects from pre-kindergarten programs did not find that those effects remained beyond the first grade.
A commonly claimed benefit of these programs is that they reduce delinquency, but a comprehensive survey at Yale of the studies done on these programs found a “general lack of positive impacts in this area.” As for Mrs. Clinton’s claim that these programs reduce school behavioral problems, studies show exactly the opposite: at least two major studies have found children who attended these programs over time actually had more behavioral problems than those who did not attend. One study concluded these programs “seem to have little or no effect on children’s intellectual development or school performance, and they might have negative behavioral consequences for young children.”
Such survey results should not be surprising. Young children deserve and need more time with their parents at ages 3 and 4. Public schools, which have failed to teach children basic math, reading and analytical skills in the K-12 years, do not need or deserve an extra year or two to reach the same results.
Why, then, do social liberals like Hillary Clinton push so hard for the expansion of preschool programs? Perhaps they understand the truth of Proverbs 22:6 better than most parents: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” When the mind of a young child is subjected to state control before fundamental concepts and basic beliefs are formulated, the child is much more likely to learn a liberal social and political philosophy with the state as his or her master. Creation and God-given rights are more easily replaced with evolution and government-granted rights. Totalitarian regimes like those of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin knew well the value of a “youth corps.” As Hans Schemm, leader of the Nazi Teacher’s League, once observed, “Those who have the youth on their side control the future.”
The education of our Founding Fathers offers a stark contrast to the state-run education machine of the 21st century. At a time when state schools did not exist, Americans during the 18th century were the most literate and well-informed in history. “The Federalist Papers,” a collection of newspapers articles written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay concerning the Constitution that are still studied in colleges today, were read by farmers back in the Revolutionary era. Poetry, science and religion flourished in that time without the support of the state. Even today, children educated at home have shown more academic promise than those taught in government schools. One study found that, on average, homeschoolers out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects.
Any attempt to extend government-controlled education to pre-kindergarten children is another unjustifiable attempt to indoctrinate our youth. After all, the admonition to train up children was given to parents, not government. More parental involvement rather than more federal intervention will improve American education. It is time for parents to ignore the liberal elites and pay attention to the academic development of their children.
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