Universal Preschool: Expensive and Ineffective

Edward Stringham, Real Clear Policy, January 17, 2014

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is promising bold change, but the centerpiece of his education-reform package–universal, government-run preschool–is a looming financial and bureaucratic nightmare. Adding universal preschool to government K-12 schooling may sound like a harmless proposal, but it would strain New York City’s education budget while delivering few of the new mayor’s promised results.

De Blasio plans to raise taxes by more than $500 million per year to pay for this and other programs. {snip}

Many of the scholarly articles in support of universal government preschool ignore the costs of creating another municipal bureaucracy–including teacher salaries and benefits, administrative and regulatory costs, and the negative economic effects of added taxes. {snip}


And the benefits of universal pre-K touted by proponents are not at all sure to materialize. Past studies of programs like Head Start have found that participation in preschool has no effect on high-school completion, college attendance, or young-adult earnings–all drivers of the financial benefits de Blasio and others promise–and a very limited effect on crime rates. An analysis by the left-leaning Brookings Institution found that universal-preschool programs in Georgia and Oklahoma had only small effects on participants’ later academic achievement. Researchers at Vanderbilt University conducted an in-depth study of children who attended Tennessee’s government-administered preschools, and found that by first grade, any benefits provided by the preschools had vanished entirely. In fact, the preschools had an insignificant to slightly negative effect on both academic and social/emotional skills.


Topics: , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • Truthseeker

    Liberals have long since proven that they don’t care about the truth. They only care about appearing to be noble. If there’s a program that makes them look caring and benevolent, then they must do it, even if it’s wasteful and ineffective.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Many parents don’t even care whether pre-scool affects their child’s grades; they like it because it’s “free” daycare.

      • dd121

        In most cities there is no pretense of learning. It is strictly free day care. Not a peep out of the repubs, either. To me they’re just as guilty of malfeasance.

      • De’Ontavious Jizzaiah Jones

        Exactly, that’s all it is, expensive free daycare along with 4C daycare.

    • Mark Hillyard

      You know the Bible it appears! “The vile person shall be no more called liberal, nor the churl said to be bountiful.” Isaiah 32:5

      Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
      you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
      and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”
      The women running our nation from their husbands think highly of themselves but it is all false piety and photo opps. When Jesus saw the religious giving to the poor and announce it ‘over the air’ he said, “They have their reward.”

      • Brian

        The definition of ‘liberal’ has changed a bit since 1611.

  • D.B. Cooper

    I don’t live in New York, so SO WHAT! Empty those pockets and pay up!
    Why stop at $500,000,000? Why not go for a cool billion?White New Yorkers are all bark and no bite. They will grumble, but in the end, these white New Yorkers will pay up and vote Democrat in the next election.

    • MekongDelta69

      White leftist New Yorkers (which are the majority).

      It’s like saying b/c all Southern colleges use nothing but blacks on their teams, that must mean all Southerners are sniveling grovelers (which is obviously totally untrue).

      Or like saying b/c everybody in Hollyweird is a guilt-ridden, self-loathing, spineless, hypocritical socialist, every White person in California is that way (and again, that’s obviously totally untrue).

      Etc., etc. – You can’t lump everybody who lives in some area, state, city, neighborhood, whatever, into one big lump of goo.

      Warren Wilhelm, Jr. is an out an out anti-white, communist (and that’s no embellishment):

    • NeanderthalDNA

      It will be so delicious to everybody outside the big apple when deBlackio undoes everything Giuliano and Bloomberg did to spiff the place up the last two decades.

      HA HA!!!! That treacherous oil driller is bound and determined to Dinkinize old Gotham yet!

    • NoMosqueHere

      The self hating PC whites and sick liberal jews in NYC are easy marks for race hustlers. Their commitment to “civil rights” is so ingrained in their minds, even Sigmund Freud himself couldn’t hypnotize it out of them. But, these caucasian crazies have their fortunes tied up in their NYC coops and condos; so if de Blackio can’t control the savages and RE prices drop significantly and their precious babies are mugged and beaten on the lovely streets of the Upper East Side, then then may turn to a “white knight” in four years.

  • Jesse James

    Why not just take the infants right from the hospital and raise them in a government facility staffed by highly paid enlightened minorities. Parents are really just getting in the way of the governments indoctrination program, they are so 20th Century. We are almost to the Progressive Utopia, keep pushing and let no old fashioned concepts of morality or law stand in the way. Forward!

    • sbuffalonative

      With enough money and the right programs, the dream can be realized!

      • Max

        The dream of wealth transfer from whites to minorities can absolutely be realized.

        • GeneticsareDestiny

          Only temporarily. Once the wealth is placed in the hands of minorities, they immediately squander it and wind up just as poor as they were before a few years down the road.

          It’s impossible to transfer the ability to create wealth, which is what’s really worth something.

          • Max

            Yes, but I have to create wealth while they squander it, nonetheless. I’m not really pleased with that arrangement

    • John R

      Why not just take the kids of minorities, and move them to a large farm, owned by a wealthy White family? They could live there, work there, and have all the family’s needs satisfied by the farm owner? Wouldn’t that be a great system? Let’s see, the farm would be like a plantation! Yep, that’ll work!

    • GeneticsareDestiny

      I love seeing white liberals advocating to have the government keep minority children away from their parents for the maximum amount of time possible, only to cry about how “racist” and “evil” the boarding schools white liberals of the past sent Amerindian children to were.

      The idea between the two schemes was identical: if we can remove minority children from their horrible parents and have them raised by white people at school, they’ll start behaving and succeeding like white people.

      It didn’t work back then and it won’t work now.

    • Mark Hillyard

      It’s the diaper thing.

  • Truth Teller

    I went to preschool and I didn’t really learn much there. All you did was play with blocks and toys and once in a while a story was told. It was fun but people are kidding themselves when they say it adds to education.

  • Expensive? Yes.

    Ineffective? Yes.

    Does that matter? No.

    Because this isn’t being done in the spirit of its cost or results. It’s being done because the NEA, AFT, AFSCME and SEIU will benefit big time. All unions that gave big time money to the oil driller.

    • Pro_Whitey

      As the techie types might say: Expensive and ineffective? That’s not a bug, that’s a feature!

      • Spartacus

        That explains Windows 8’s interface…

  • Erasmus

    The lefties never fail to disappoint. They’re going to succeed in destroying the US when the Commies and Al-Qai’da couldn’t.

  • Spartacus

    “De Blasio plans to raise taxes by more than $500 million per year to pay for this and other programs.”


    Yes !

  • WR_the_realist

    NYC has lots of super rich Democrats. So I wouldn’t mind De Blasio’s plans if the taxes could be imposed on only super rich Democrats. But as with all such taxes the upper middle class will bear most of the burden. (In NYC, “upper middle class” means you can afford a studio apartment without having to share it.)

  • Luca

    Universal Preschool, let’s call it what it really is: Babysitting service for minorities paid for by Whites.

    • Tarczan

      You beat me to it.

    • IstvanIN

      They pop them out but really don’t want to raise them. Especially the blacks, they don’t really seem, by and large, to have the attachment to their kids that we do.

      • GeneticsareDestiny

        Most of them don’t actually plan to have children. Children “just happen” to blacks. Black women just “get pregnant,” as though it were a disease spread through the air that one is helpless to protect themselves against.

        • pcmustgo

          Yup, I knew many black women who would be surprised they got pregnant after have a lot of sex without birth control.

  • sbuffalonative

    Apparently, any black boy or girl can grow up to be anything if we just spend enough money. It never worked before but I’m sure this time it will be a smashing success.

    • Irishgirl

      Yes we can! /

  • sbuffalonative

    Whatever happened with that paying kids to attend school? Does anyone have an update? Is that program still running or did it quietly fade away after it’s spectacular failure?

  • dd121

    It has been know for at least 20 years the Head Start program was a total bust and has no chance of accomplishing what the libs said. The repubs never say a word to have it canned because they just can’t stand to hear the word “racist” shouted at them by the lib demagogues.

  • Max

    If they can just add one or two more years of education via preschool, they will finally close that “achievement gap” and develop all of those potential physicians, professors and scientists now languishing in the ghettos. Parents will now be freed to pursue employment rather than having to stay home to care for the children thus elevating them out of poverty. This could be the beginning of a glorious chapter in America’s history.

    But it won’t. It will be yet another colossally expensive failure completely relieving deadbeat parents of any responsibility whatever. The new preschool system will be replete with corrupt and/or incompetent affirmative-action hires teaching to an army of morons like themselves, which will be charged to the public for decades to come. The left will call it bold innovation and a shining success.

  • 2eRep

    Preschool to prison. The sooner we start, the sooner we can get them off the street.

  • MBlanc46

    I wonder how the New York Times will spin the failure of this nightmare when it crashes and burns ten years down the road.

    • Max

      They will blame the (any) remaining Republicans in NYC for the failure; maybe Reagan too, if they can work it in.

  • Max

    It also occurs to me that this would be a convenient way to up the HS graduation statistics. They could give all of the ” disadvantaged youth” an extra year or two of credit at the end of public schooling because they enrolled in school early in this “enrichment program” Presto! The NYC school system has increased graduation rates by 20% or whatever.

    There is all kinds of potential mischief built into this collectivist scheme.

  • John R

    I have another good idea: If this program passed by a Democrat, is to be financed, then let it be funded ONLY by registered Democrats!

  • Irishgirl

    “… the preschools had an insignificant to slightly negative effect…”

    I’m curious about this negative effect. Is this true and if so, does anyone have theories as to why this happens?

    • Spartacus

      Leaving a White child around dark-skins of any age is bad, and leaving a dark-skin “child” around others like him will make him worse .

  • Mark Hillyard

    It’s all evil!

    I know a kid almost three years old and his mother still changes his diaper. How’s that going to work?

    I’m trying to visualize New York in the coming years, I think it will be one of those cities called “a waste place.”And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall rebuild the waste cities, and inhabit them;” This verse may be out of context but I think it applies to the many wasted cities of America.

    • IstvanIN

      It isn’t unusual for 3 year olds to have accidents. She should switch him to pull-ups.

    • Max

      Are they red diapers?

  • dd121

    Never heard that statistic before. Does that mean the effect fades by adulthood and then they revert to normal black criminality?

    You would think that even liberals would be rational enough to admit that they started with a reasonable premise that proved to be wrong. The conclusion is that you should stop spending that 7 billion a year (or whatever it is now) and try something else. Nope. Any criticism of Head Start is met with the usual accusations of racism. Sigh.

    • Max

      The left (maybe anyone dependent on gummint funds) cannot admit failure of a concept because it will call into question their next “innovation”. They can only admit “setbacks” which can always be addressed by upscaling the failed project which always requires the infusion of additional funds.

      If a concrete airplane wont fly, just make it bigger.

      • dd121

        Old saying that you can make anything fly with a big enough engine.

  • NoMosqueHere

    The self hating PC whites and sick liberal jews of NYC are easy marks for race hustlers. Their commitment to “civil rights” is unshakable, and so ingrained in their minds and DNA, even Sigmund Freud himself couldn’t hypnotize it out of them at gun point. So, black and white hustlers alike can sell them any BS government or private charity program purportedly aimed at uplifting the blacks, especially black children.

    But, these caucasian crazies have their fortunes tied up in their over-priced NYC coops and condos. So if de Blackio can’t control the savages and RE prices drop significantly, or their little princes and princesses are mugged and beaten by black barbarians on the tony streets of the Upper East Side, then they may — very very very reluctantly, and in great psychic distress, and after much hand wringing — turn to a “white knight” in four years to bail them out: paging Rudy Giuliani…..?

  • George Clark

    What cliche are you referring to? You would rather hang around with Harvey Weinstein than someone like Robert Heinlein [RIP}?

  • DaveMed

    The de Blasio laboratory will be a rich source of amusement for the next several years. Considering that it’s New York, I’m not even sorry for them.

  • DaveMed

    I’m a bit confused as to how you’re applying “reproductive success.” As far as I can tell, the liberals with the brains (the white elites) have very few children.

  • jackryanvb

    This race mixing, Communist De Blasio (not his real name, changed his name to Italian to try to sound tough) won all of 22% of NYC registered voters. The Chilean Communist Allende won just a bit more, but not a majority. Our hero Chile General Pinochet acted on less of an outrage than this.

  • NoMosqueHere

    Like the rest of the US, NYC’s demographics have changed. The white ethnic neighborhoods of Queens and Brooklyn are disappearing; and spanish and asians now predominate.

    Only 20 years ago, Rudy Giuliani was elected mayor. Today, his election would be unlikely. It just goes to show how fast demographics can change.