Number 8: The truth about pre-K (hint: it doesn’t work)

Victor Joecks

In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, I’m going to be listing my 12 favorite Write on Nevada posts from 2011. I’ll post them from December 16 to January 2. We love to get your feedback, so please leave your thoughts in the comments. Here’s number 8.


Thoughts on this post: The most frustrating thing about the education policy debate is that facts are routinely ignored by those seeking to spend more money and expand government. Facts like “Nevada has nearly tripled inflation-adjusted, per-pupil spending in the last 50 years.

The debate over pre-K is just another example of that. How do you deal with the experiences of pre-K in Georgia and Oklahoma, if they don’t fit your narrative? Ignore them. Ignorance is bliss my friends, especially if taxpayers would be paying for it.

The truth about pre-K (hint: it doesn’t work)

At last night’s education committee hearing, both Clark County Superintendent Dwight Jones and Washoe County Superintendent Heath Morrison indicated they are proponents of spending government money to provide pre-K services. Several liberal lawmakers have also previously indicated they are big fans of pre-K.

Each claims that funding pre-K increases student achievement.

Except it doesn’t. Consider Georgia, which has had universal, state-subsidized pre-K since 1992.

Scores from the NAEP Fourth Grade reading test.

Or consider Oklahoma, which has had universal, state-subsidized pre-K since 1998.

Scores from the NAEP Fourth Grade reading test.

Now compare this to the reforms Florida instituted in 1998, and the ensuing results.

There’s no contest. Why would anyone choose pre-K over the proven reforms of Florida? Bueller… Bueller…

Now, advocates of pre-K will cite small-, small-scale studies to justify this enormous expense, but those studies have significant limitations, which the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke details here. She also explains here how government-funded pre-school could crowd out private alternatives.

In fact, the research in these papers is so important, I’m going to link to them again:

The next time someone advocates pre-K as a solution to Nevada’s education problems, remind him or her about Georgia and Oklahoma. There’s no need to repeat a failed experiment.

State-subsidized pre-K is an enormously expensive program that produces little to no lasting increase in student achievement.