It is good to see NPRI alum-turned-R-J-columnist Victor Joecks take on one of the false shibboleths of the progressives by pointing out that ever expanding pre-K education is little more than a hugely expensive futile gesture.
The gist of the piece:
In the past 50 years, government-funded pre-K programs have grown considerably — and so has our understanding of their impact. The federal government started the Head Start program in 1965 to
help improve the school readiness of low-income children. We have since spent more than $180 billion on this program.
In 2012, the federal government released the results of a random-assignment study of 5,000 Head Start participants. The Heritage Foundation notes that the scientifically rigorous examination found “no statistically measurable effects on any measure of cognitive ability, including reading, language, and math.”
Futile education programs could be fertile ground for Joecks.
After all, Nevada high school students are dead last in the nation in college preparedness, according to the ACT test scores. That means 90 percent of Nevada students failed to achieve benchmark scores on all four of the test categories — English, math, reading and science. ACT reports that this compares to 34 percent nationally, who failed to pass any of the tests.
Add this to the recent Education Week’s 2014 Quality Counts report that ranked Nevada K-12 education 51st in the nation, behind every other state and the District of Columbia. Nevada has never ranked higher than 48th.
This despite the fact 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, while principals, teachers, and parents were very positive in their attitudes toward class-size reduction, 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.
This past legislative session the governor pushed through nearly a $1 billion dollars more per biennium spending on feel-good education programs that may or may not improve anything. We’ll just have to wait and see.