The president is so interested in evidence-based policies, his administration has suppressed and ignored evidence that a new federal preschool program he proposed Tuesday will waste money the country doesn’t have while hurting children.
A month ago, The Huffington Post broke the news that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the Department of Health and Human Services have been plotting to get 1.85 million three- and four-year-olds enrolled in government preschool. Currently, the federal Head Start program enrolls about 900,000 small children from poor families, at a cost of $8 billion per year, or $180 billion since the program was conceived in a well-meaning thrust of government paternalism. President Obama wants middle-income kids in government care centers, too, as he announced Tuesday during his State of the Union.
Federal researchers have been studying Head Start for decades, and have never found significant, long-lasting benefits. The research consistently shows that kids who attend Head Start are, four or five years later, no different from their peers who did not attend. In short, the program is like an $8 billion Popsicle binge: it makes grown-ups feel good about giving the kiddos a token while the kids get no nutrition. Seeing these results, HHS suppressed its own research and dumped the latest report full of zeroes on the Friday before Christmas 2012. In January, Congress sent Head Start a $100 million bonus.