2013 August 03 Saturday
Obama Wants To Spend Another $75B On Head Start Fantasy

The tabula rasa blank slate mythology is alive and well in the Obama Administration with a proposal to spend $75 billion on early childhood education even though it does not deliver any lasting benefits.

The most credible recent study of pre-K outcomes, the federal Head Start Impact Study, found only small differences at the end of the Head Start year between the performance of children randomly assigned to Head Start vs. the control group, e.g., about a month’s superiority in vocabulary for the Head Start group. There were virtually no differences between Head Start and the control group once the children were in elementary school. Two other recent studies of pre-K programs by the federal government using rigorous random assignment designs (see here and here) produced similar findings, i.e., impacts on school readiness ranging from null to small. A piece here last month examined the association across the 50 states between the number of children enrolled in state pre-K programs and later academic performance. The association was positive but modest, suggesting that 4th grade achievement in reading and math across the nation would increase by no more than about a 10th of a standard deviation if state pre-K enrollments increased dramatically.

This is one of the many costs of the Left's denial of the findings of psychometrics research. This denial has corrupted many parts of our society including mainstream political discussions, tests used to hire government employees, tested used for college admissions, and labor law over what constitutes unfair treatment in the work place. The costs of the denial keep rising.

I do not expect the denial to end until most of the genetic variants that contribute to IQ are identified and quantified.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 August 03 12:34 PM 

Robert said at August 3, 2013 2:09 PM:

My read has always been that the real aim of Head Start is to provide a sure meal to the kids plus baby-sitting relief so poor families can work. Many additional in-kind benefits from private charities are often contingent with the child being in Head start--toys, blankets, transportation tickets, food.

If the child learns something and socializes so much the better. I suspect that many individual benefits are masked in these gross statistical measures as well, such as children who would do very badly or die and in either case do not show up in such statistics.

destructure said at August 4, 2013 6:17 PM:

Liberal Creationists believe brain evolution ended 100K years ago.

Just another way the left is anti science.

Joe Walker said at August 5, 2013 12:45 AM:

The problem is that most of the genetic variants that contribute to IQ probably only contribute a small amount each which may make it very difficult to identify them.

Lyle said at August 5, 2013 8:30 AM:

As far as I'm aware most proponents admit that the academic advantages fade out in primary school, but crime reduction does not.

In particular: "In Longer Term Effects of Head Start (NBER Working Paper No. 8054), authors Eliana Garces, Duncan Thomas, and Janet Currie find that Head Start generates long-term improvements in important outcomes such as schooling attainment, earnings, and crime reduction. They find that disadvantaged whites who had been enrolled in Head Start were more likely to graduate from high school and to have attended college than siblings who did not. White children of high school dropouts also had higher average earnings between the ages of 23 and 25 if they attended Head Start. African-Americans who attended Head Start were "significantly less likely to have been booked or charged with a crime" compared to siblings who did not participate in Head Start. Finally, the authors find that male African-Americans were more likely to complete high school and to participate in the labor force if they had attended Head Start."

Brookings doesn't mention that because it works against what they desire. But if the crime reduction statistics hold up (and what I've seen shows a relatively solid methodology), our society would pay a lot less to have head start programs that provide some sort of early socialization than it would pay to house criminals later in life.

Check it out said at August 5, 2013 3:10 PM:

Randall wrote: "I do not expect the denial to end until most of the genetic variants that contribute to IQ are identified and quantified."

I think it has to do with bravery more than IQ. Bravery to say "no" to official and main stream deceit and systemic abuse. Bravery to openly back up the person who is right even if fighting alone against a system. Of course one always feels all alone even though others are secretly agreeing with him.

Of all human evils I consider cowardliness to be the greatest. Second would probably be mental laziness that makes people too mentally obese to at least know who their enemies are, what they really believe in and why, to revise and look at what they've become.

Americans fought against the Brithish dictatorship, but now they have forgotten that in order to be a patriot you first have to become an accomplice of your fellow countryman, before your corporation.

Bill said at August 7, 2013 7:41 AM:

I'm not sure that HeadStart is really about early education. I think that feminists want free child care to start earlier. Same for the current debate about how summer vacation is bad for students. It's all about the state taking up the burden of child care, letting women do whatever they want.

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