Governor Whitmer and her colleagues in the Democratic Party want to get a hold of your children’s minds even younger than Kindergarten. In her proposed 2023 budget proposal she wants to expand Michigan’s “free” preschool. This “free” preschool would be eligible to 4-year-olds but which 4-year-olds?
A strong foundation is critical to long-term success…Making big investments in our littlest Michiganders sets them up to succeed in school, attain higher education, and get good-paying jobs. Every kid deserves that strong foundation, and we should keep making bold investments in preschool and childcare.
Governor’s Whitmer’s office stated that there are 110,000 students eligible for Michigan’s GSRP program but only 37,369 students were enrolled in the program for the 2019/2020 school year. Who are exactly eligible? According to the article:
Eligibility is based on income and various environmental factors that could affect a child’s chance of success in school. Most participants come from low-income families, according to state evaluations. The program also aims to address a racial gap in kindergarten readiness, where Black and Hispanic children lag behind their white peers.
If that is true then why did Governor Whitmer say “a strong foundation is critical to long-term success…Making big investments in our littlest Michiganders sets them up to succeed in school, attain higher education, and get good-paying jobs. Every kid deserves that strong foundation, and we should keep making bold investments in preschool and childcare”. When clearly what you meant by “littlest Michiganders sets them up to succeed in school, attain higher education, and get good-paying jobs” was only low-income families littlest Michiganders?
That eligibility issue is not what Whitmer and her colleague's big reveal was. That reveal came from Rick Baker, Rick is the president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. Rick stated:
One of the largest barriers to employment right now is the lack of access to quality, affordable childcare…We’ve made significant progress in recent years, and we must continue delivering for our future leaders.
That tells me that one of the real reasons for this program appears to be to allow certain parents to enter the labor force and not have to pay for child care. Is preschool only a state-run babysitting program or is it more than that?
If some people need help with daycare let the politicians and us citizens discuss that. Let us not hide “free” daycare behind “free” preschool.
Back in 2019, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy looked into the studies concerning the progress of children who had attended preschool and found:
In fact, the best contemporary research on large-scale programs like Great Start is far from promising. Only two applicable gold-standard studies have been conducted, and neither bolsters the case for more government-funded preschool. The large-scale randomized study of the federal Head Start program found initial benefits for learning and behavior that faded out by the time students reach third grade. A more recent randomized control trial of Tennessee's state pre-K program actually found the initial gains turned to negative effects in the early elementary grades. Simply put, evidence is lacking that any initial academic benefits provided by preschool will actually stick.
The Wall Street Journal reported on a long-term study from Vanderbilt University that found “children who attended Tennessee’s state pre-k program underperformed in the sixth grade compared to children who did not attend the program”. The study found:
Data through sixth grade from state education records showed that the children randomly assigned to attend pre-K had lower state achievement test scores in third through sixth grades than control children…strongest negative effects were found in sixth graders.
The same study also found there actually was a negative effect for “disciplinary infractions, attendance, and receipt of special education services, with null effects on retention.”