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  • $8 Billion In Pre-K Waste In Higher Ed Bill

    The House is expected to vote today on the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, which would end the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, transferring student lending exclusively to the federal Direct Loan and Perkins Loan programs – effectively ending federally subsidized private lending. While the proposed legislation will drastically change the dynamics of the student loan industry, it will also expand the federal government’s role in early childhood education – to the tune of $8 billion.

    The SAFRA establishes an $8 billion Early Learning Challenge Fund to provide grants to states to improve the quality of their early childhood education programs for children ages 0 to 5 – a key mission of the Obama administration. According to Education Daily:

    Duncan said including $8 billion for early education in legislation with a core focus on higher education supports the administration’s ‘cradle to career’ agenda to ensure young children succeed and high school seniors have opportunities to at­tend college.

    The $8 billion infusion – which will allocate $1 billion annually beginning in 2010 and ending in 2019, comes on top of the $25 billion spent each year by the federal government on early education and child care programs.

    The Early Learning Challenge Fund will provide money to states to develop common quality standards for their preschool programs, and according to Education Secretary Duncan, will be used to “increase access” to preschool. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will increase the number of disadvantaged children participating in preschool, and will require states to describe how they will encourage center-based child care programs when applying for funds. Priority will be given to states “that dedicate a significant increase, in comparison to recent fiscal years, in State expenditures on early learning programs and services”.

    While it may seem curious to have preschool funding in a higher education bill, proponents claim that children must be prepared early on in order to be successful in later schooling, and that preschool is the key to this preparation. House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-CA) was quoted in the same Education Daily article attempting to justify including such a provision in a higher ed bill:

    If you do it right in early education settings, the children are much more likely to succeed early, are more likely to make a decision not to drop out of high school, and to think about going to college. One thing that is excit­ing about this administration is they are seeking to do it right. We’ve had enough patchwork.

    But the evidence suggests otherwise.

    Taxpayers have spent more than $100 billion on the federal Head Start program since it began in 1965, with little to show for it. HHS, the department that administers Head Start, concluded that participants “still enter kindergarten lagging far behind the typical Amer­ican child in skills needed for school readiness.” And states have had little success with large taxpayer investments in government preschool programs. Oklahoma and Georgia, which have both had preschool for over a decade, have essentially seen zero benefit to their 3- and 4-year-old children. In Oklahoma, students have actually seen a decline in reading achievement since the introduction of universal preschool.

    And while Miller claims that preschool will reduce dropout rates, graduation figures over the past four decades tell another story. After investing billions of dollars and drastically increasing preschool attendance, graduation rates are actually lower today than they were in the 1970s. From 1970 to 2007, enrollment of three- and four-year-old children increased more than 180 percent. But in that same time period, graduation rates have remained relatively flat, even decreasing slightly.

    Yet, the Obama administration is intent on spending billions on its “zero-to-five” program, and Congress seems eager to make good on this intention, even if it means slipping a large new preschool initiative into a higher education bill.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to $8 Billion In Pre-K Waste In Higher Ed Bill

    1. M Williams, Texas says:

      I think the evidence presented here, on both sides, is considerably vague. I think we need more research into the topic before concluding one way or the other, that preschool has had little effect on graduation rates. There are so many factors involved in such a study, to deem conclusively that preschool has a negative effect on graduation rates is, in my opinion, premature. On the other side, to deem conclusively that preschool has a positive effect on graduation rates is also, in my opinion, premature.

      What I would be interested in seeing, however, is more specifics on the preschool programs to be instituted. This would be beneficial in making statements of validity towards preschool programs. These details should also be seen before making blanket statements that they are not going to be beneficial.

    2. Bobbie Jay says:

      This is outrageous. We have it in this state and it is nothing but unfair obligation to the taxpayer with more negative results if any. k-12 is unconstitutional and actually hurts society more then contributes in a positive, civil way. This is a free market business. and should open up strong with the variety of people we have. Parents obligation to provide and be responsible for their own.

      This is nothing but greed, deceit, indoctrination. Why else would they push this when we are without the funds and a deficit in the trillions?

    3. CAW, 22203 says:

      That certainly is early to be pushing "higher education." What about the 30,000 jobs that this bill could eliminate. I'm sure those people wish they could get a little higher education funding when they're unemployed.

    4. I. Myers, AZ says:

      With government funds comes goverment intrusion, intervension and the ability to inject liberal bias into the teaching of vulnerable children. This is an outrage on many levels and, certainly, one item of this bloated, misdirected bill that we, as taxpayers, do not need to sholder. Parents are the ones responsible for early teaching; the government should tend to protecting the country (which they are now failing to do).

    5. Fr. Art, Laurel MD says:

      I am the head of schools for a 5-year-old parochial school. Since we were founded, we have grown from 4 kindergarten students to a school serving grades Kindergarten-r4 (Pre-K on steroids ) throught 9th, and will graduate our first seniors in June 2013. We have done this with NO state or federal money, and other than tuition, only some generous gifts and loans from members of our board have been our funding (Heritage, can we talk? ) A traditional liberal arts education from K4 and up has been our key. Oh yes, we give one full scholarship each year to a family who simply gives us their contact information, and put $100,000 in scholarship money in our OPERATING budget this year, since our first grads won't be in the workforce until 2017 or so (allowing for college). This whole federal-involvement-in-education is so NOT Tenth Amendment compliant even my 6th graders wonder what is going on. $8 BILLION for pre-k? Gimme a break!

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