(Thomas Mitchell, 4TH ST8) – It is one thing to throw other people’s money at a feel-good, but senseless and futile gesture. It is entirely another to spend money on something that may actually do more harm than good.
North Las Vegas Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz has introduced a bill that would lower the mandatory school age from 7 to 5 and require schools to create prekindergarten education programs for children as young as 4. It is Assembly Bill 186. The fiscal note says this will cost $352 million in the next biennium and $420 million over the next two years.
Diaz claims this will benefit children.
But the federal Head Start program has been around since 1965 and costs $8 billion a year and continues, despite the fact a massive federal study found it has no lasting educational impact.
“In summary, there were initial positive impacts from having access to Head Start, but by the end of 3rd grade there were very few impacts found for either cohort in any of the four domains of cognitive, social-emotional, health and parenting practices. The few impacts that were found did not show a clear pattern of favorable or unfavorable impacts for children,” reported the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation in 2012.
Worse, a study by Stanford and Berkeley universities in 2005 found that early education programs can be harmful. “The biggest eye-opener is that the suppression of social and emotional development, stemming from long hours in preschool, is felt most strongly by children from better-off families,” said UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller in a press release.
The study found that the earlier a child enters a preschool center, the slower his or her pace of social development. It also noted that prekindergarten education actually “hinders social development and created poor social behavior, such as bullying and aggression, and a lack of motivation to take part in classroom activities.”
Some things look like a good idea but don’t turn out to be so.
We may also recall that the Nevada since 1990 has spent close to $2.5 billion on class-size reduction in the early grades with nothing to show for it. A 2001 report by the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau found that achievement data did not produce results. Students in larger classes outperformed those in the smaller classes.
Over the past four decades, according to a Cato Institute analysis, Nevada has increased K-12 public school funding by 80 percent per pupil, adjusted for inflation. During those four decades student test scores have actually fallen slightly.
A number of people testifying against AB186 Wednesday afternoon suggested the state is taking away too many parental rights.
Mr. Mitchell publishes the 4TH ST8 Blog.
Column originally published at 4TH ST8.