If the regular public schools aren’t working…does it make sense to layer on another defective education level, except earlier in life?
In December, [President Barack] Obama’s own Health and Human Services Department released an evaluation of Head Start, the 47-year-old program for low-income toddlers, and concluded that any cognitive gains disappeared by the third grade. HHS had sat on the legally mandated study for more than a year.
Part of the reason for the failure of preschool programs, though, is that, after passing out of these programs, the kids go into the same failing school systems as their non-preschool peers.
Progressives and the teachers unions (not necessarily the teachers themselves), though, universally oppose such successful alternatives as charter schools and voucher programs—they reject the competition that would force improvement on the public schools while providing an immediately improved environment for the children.
Such improvements would, for instance, include compensating teachers for their performance—the quality of the students passing out of their classes—rather than simply for being on the job for the requisite length of time. In the end, this impacts teachers unions more than it does the teachers themselves; see for instance the New York City resistance to such an evaluation régime—it’s union leadership and their pocket politicians on the city council, not the teachers, that are objecting.
Is there evidence that any preschool success could be potentiated by charter/voucher programs rather than allowed to peter out as happens in existing public schools? Not yet. Progressive blockage remains too successful for these alternatives to be widespread and the needed research conducted.
Education, in the end, is a local prerogative, a local obligation, with standards set by and to meet local needs, even if “local” is much broader than it used to be. This is how our educational system was designed.
The failure of the Federal programs with which the Feds have been interfering in our educational system (potentiated by union intransigence) is another reason for keeping the matter local, with the central government butting out.