Junk social science: White House tweets bogus ‘fact’ about early education spending

Liberals like to pretend that they are stewards of sound science. But when it comes to their pet welfare programs, they are more than happy to trumpet the junkiest of junk science.

Case in point: Head Start. The evidence is clear that the program, one of the Left’s favorites,  doesn’t work:

According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. These results were so shocking that the HHS team sat on them for several years, according to Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who said, “I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive. They couldn’t.”

Yet the feds continue to pour billions of dollars into Head Start every year.

Now, President Obama wants us to believe that “early intervention services” (which sound very similar to Head Start) are incredibly beneficial to society. Not only are these services supposed to improve kids’ educational outcomes, but if the White House is to be believed, they also yield extraordinary economic returns.

Andrew Coulson, director of The Center for Education freedom at the Cato Institute, isn’t buying it:

[T]he empirical case for universal government pre-K collapses under mild scrutiny. The central claim, as voiced by President Obama in his SOTU speech, is that “every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than seven dollars later on.” This sweeping statement does not in fact refer to the typical  return from federal or state pre-K programs. It refers to the findings from a single intensive 1960s early childhood experiment  that served 58 children in Ypsilanti, Michigan—the High/Scope Perry preschool program. Out of the literally hundreds of preschool studies conducted in the past half-century, the Perry results are not representative and have never been reproduced on a national or even a state level. In fact, an earnest experimental effort to reproduce them for just a few hundred children at eight locations failed despite an annual investment of $32,000 per child, adjusted for inflation—far more than the President currently contemplates spending.

The president’s case for universal government pre-K singles out the unusually large positive effects of one tiny study—sometimes two or three—from scores of others that show little benefit, no benefit, or even significant harm to participating students. That sea of inferior results, moreover, is drawn in large part from  … the federally-funded pre-K efforts of the past 47 years. Indeed the largest, best designed, most recent studies of federal pre-K efforts were published by the Obama administration itself: the Head Start Impact Studies. These studies find little or no net lasting benefit to federal pre-K. The Obama administration was apparently so worried about these findings that the most recent study was released on the Friday before Christmas—despite a publication date on its title page of October 2012.

Exit question: Are the people at the White House dumb enough to believe what they are tweeting or are they knowingly lying to us?

  • mike_in_kosovo

    I’m shocked….shocked!! to find that the Obama administration has misrepresented information.

    • shimauma

      right there with ya, color me electric!

    • Billie Slash

      They put the L-I-E in “liberal”.

    • TheOriginalDonald

      your winnings, sir

  • http://twitter.com/murgatr0id GTJessop

    Exit Answer: Yes & Yes.

  • J. Cox

    Betting they had John Kerry make the numbers up for them.

  • Kevin Krom

    “Exit question: Are the people at the White House dumb enough to believe
    what they are tweeting or are they knowingly lying to us?”


    • Tom Bannigan

      Seeing as how most admit to past drug use, and some have been caught red handed, I would say they believe it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lisa.dean.564 Lisa Dean

    “High quality early education” in what city? It’s been proven in many studies that kids who’ve been placed in “Head Start” programs don’t do any better than those who were in day care or stayed at home during the ages of 1-5. The only decent thing that can be said about “head start” is that the kids get fed two meals a day.

  • Marc LoGrasso

    This story makes me think of a drunk guy at a bar playing darts. He hits the bullseye once early in the night when he’s still only a little buzzed then suddenly bets a round of drinks for everyone at the bar that he can hit the bullseye again with his next dart a few hours and several beers later all because of his one bullseye.

  • Shawn Smith

    Ooh! Ooh! I know what would really save society a lot of money and trouble later in children’s lives: intact families with a mother and father. Can we do something to promote that?

    • grais

      Head Start is supposed to do that.

      I’d laugh, but it’s not funny.

    • Shawn Smith

      Now I’m very curious what psycho down-voted this. Of course, it’s apparently just another visit from the down-vote troll (cousin to the tooth fairy), but I’m having fun imagining an argument with someone saying that an intact family is *not* good for children.

      Unfortunately, as absurd as this position sounds to me, I wouldn’t have to look very far to find a liberal pushing it.

      • Junie3

        Was wondering the same thing, mother and father bad, gov’t good. You can sure tell where the troll gets his livelihood.

  • golftilidrop

    Head start is nothing more then daycare for welfare parasites, it allows them to continue to breed democrats without being disturbed.

  • http://twitter.com/AmandaDavis612 Amanda Davis

    Even NPR’s commentators (from none other than left wing FactCheck)said that the POTUS was extrapolating past the point of any credibility and his SOTU comments were “puffery” at best. NPR, people…

  • Rob

    This math seems solid to me.
    $1 spent indoctrinating children early and refusing to educate them to think for themselves saves $7 from cuts when they grow up and vote for a government that thinks for them.

  • grais

    The benefits from Head Start have been unapparent since Obama was little boy. For heaven’s sake, who do they think they’re fooling?

  • Frank Drebin

    I saw that study in December and remembered hearing of similar results in the past. Over the Christmas holidays I had the opportunity to chat with an Educational Psychologist who told me that as a part of his PhD program he was required to research the effectiveness of the early education programs available, including – and especially, Head Start, and the same dismal conclusions were being reached then. This would have been 1970-1972.

  • Kele Johnson

    There are entire generations of Americans who went right into kindergarten without the benefit of “Head Start” and our graduation rate beats the pants off of the Head Start generations.

    • Tim Hollingsworth

      and before that generations started with 1st grade…Parents, (mothers unashamed to be Moms), taught us to read and write and basic math before 1st grade. Worked a lot better than any government program EVER will.

  • Squirrel!

    Sadly, the expectations of the knowledge of a child entering kindergarten is extremely low. Can your child count to 20 & recognize those numbers and recognize his or her own name on sight? I assume this is the federal standard since they’re involved in our public school system & I assume this is the standard that education of Head Start is held to. I know firsthand these are a couple of the things expected of those going into kindergarten. Makes me feel like a have a couple of geniuses.

    • J. Cox

      You are right,I sent my son to kindergarten this year,and the expectations were shocking to say the least.I guess when they set the bar so low,they believe they can’t possibly fail….and yet they somehow do.Sadly all they do is hold back the children whose parents took the time well before school to get them started.I just wish we could afford a private school,but the Teacher’s Union made sure that vouchers were demonized so as to keep their fail a little less noticeable.

      • Michael Rice

        I bought two hot dogs at a high school basketball a couple days ago. They were 75 cents a piece. The high school student taking my money wanted to charge me a dollar and 25 cents.
        I had to point out it was a dollar and fifty cents. She stood there for a minute, with a blank stare. The girls next to her said “Yeah, it’s a dollar fifty”.
        She paused another second or two and the said “Yeha, I guess it is”.
        I was happy with myself that I waited until i got around the corner to shake my head

      • Squirrel!

        Wish we could afford private as well but too far out of reach. One of our children is seated next to another child so that he can help her. And you notice I say they wanted to know if they recognize their name upon sight when entering kindergarten. The question wasn’t if they could spell their own name. This is fresh to me since I just registered my youngest for K next year. Ashame!

  • 1CatEye

    I’ll take “Knowingly lying” for $1000, Alex.

  • Emily B

    In my area some of the few requirements for entering kindergarten are counting to ten and putting together a 5-8 piece puzzle. Had my son been toilet trained he could’ve started school at age 2! As it was, he didn’t go to preschool at all and was reading at age 3 (fluently by age 4). How about some of these parents teach their kids a few things before they start school?? How hard is it to teach most kids the alphabet, counting to ten, and to write their name?

    • Secede

      As Chris Rock said -” No wonder your kid can’t talk if the only words he hears are ” Mommy will be back !””

    • kim

      I’m with ya. I have one daughter in law with 3 grandkids ages 6,4 and 3. They can’t speak so that anyone other than their parents can understand, and while they claim the children are bottle broken and the two elder are potty trained, they still wear diapers to bed and use them and theyall need sippy cups for bedtime.
      Beats me! I thought those were the basics

  • http://Twitter.com/jkerrysforehead John Kerry’s Forehead

    They’re lying…why am I not shocked?

  • rippersnort

    Hummm. A no vote on every comment. Who’s the mole ?

    • TheOriginalDonald

      Anderson Cooper 😛

  • EastValleyConservative

    The devoted Obots will never see these facts, or immediately put their fingers in their ears and scream “LA LA LA I can’t hear you!” if presented with them.

  • lolasblest

    I teach in an urban, low income school and we have kindergartners start school not even knowing their colors! If parents would take even the slightest initiative with their children, the bottomless pit that is Head Start would be unnecessary.

  • BigTBoom

    Any early Head Start benefits disappear by second or third grade because of social assimilation.

  • kim

    They are knowingly lying to us. Stop giving them the benefit of the doubt. They are not idiots or incompetent. They do these things deliberately

  • Neil Leininger

    So does Obama also plan to ensure that each one of these kids also has 2 parents, and that those said parents are engaged in their children’s education?

  • kim

    high quality?
    We pay almost 30,000 a year per kid, billions of dollars, so they can go to class one day a week for 3 hours and have a ‘teacher’ come to their house once a week for 3 hours? That explains alot about how liberals think public education is doing so well

  • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

    This post proves what can happen when you don’t have a proper education.
    Head Start is only half the story.

    Here’s a quote from This Month’s TIME magazine, which is a much more reliable source than “twitchy”

    “In a June 2012 paper, three scholars from the University of Chicago and
    University of California, Davis, painstakingly explained why it is
    premature to reject Head Start. They note that many factors may have
    intervened to erode the early gains in scores… They also noted
    that early education in public schools has been getting better, a trend
    that might explain why Head Start kids lose their advantage over
    non–Head Start kids. Most important, some studies show that though
    their test scores level out, children who have been through early
    education do better in their professional lives.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2136877,00.html#ixzz2LydUV8zG

    The fact that you all seem hell-bent to destroy America’s education system just boggles my mind.
    What happened to American Pride? Our main goal should be to have the best educated people on the planet. Instead, you’re all bitching about the cost. If we don’t smarten up, we will continue to crumble.

    Try getting your news from more than one source. Maybe then you won’t look so stupid!

    • J. Cox

      We spend more than any nation already per child,yet somehow throwing more money is going to solve it right?Why is it that when a system is broken,the only answer is more money?The sad part is you actually think your a genius pointing out 2 of Americas most failing systems,and three “scholars” from said systems whom back a failing system.The article..or rather opinion piece blames obeseity,diabetes,and kids who can’t speak English for poor scores,and points that 31 other “rich” countries do better….yet actual studies here show that early education does nothing,and hasn’t led to an increase in overall performance of any children who use headstart.Facts be damned though..keep those Union teachers on the dole and cry for more while getting less.Try thinking so YOU don’t look so stupid.

      • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

        Keep rambling. It solves nothing.

        Everyone is yelling and screaming at one another. No one is suggesting any better ideas.

        Teachers’ pay isn’t the problem. It’s too many high paid administrators. Without unions, teachers wouldn’t get paid a decent living.

        Speaking of a decent living, the minimum wage doesn’t pay enough for a person to pay rent and utilities.

        Instead of participating in the process; ie, getting involved in our local government, everyone tunes into the tube or logs onto that one single source that tells them what they want to hear, and then they bitch at one another.

        Haven’t you noticed? Nothing Is Getting Done!

        • J. Cox

          Why is your child’s education dependent on the government?The only one rambling here is you.Just a FYI,there have been numerous ideas floated on how to turn our educational system around,but the teachers union is the main obstacle,next come people like you who believe uncle sammy is the cure.Guess what…responsible parents are the reason some students actually walk out of schools with actual knowledge.It starts at home,THEN the teachers…whom by the way make a-lot of money(depending on location as well as few other factors)Chi-town teachers make 75ish a year,and they churn out uneducated “graduates” by the truck load.

          Nothing is getting done because low information voters re-elected blamer-in-chief.I am sure you are going to write to him to submit a budget soon right?Or ask Reid to vote on the numerous bills the house has sent up…no?Shocking.

          • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

            “Why is your child’s education dependent on the government?”

            The same reason YOUR child’s education is dependent on the government. Because well educated children become well educated, productive members of society. It’s good investment for the economic stability of our country.
            Economic stability ensures a secure America that is equipped to compete in a world which is advancing faster every day.
            Education should be our number one priority. Its about the security of America.

          • Michael Rice

            The question was why is teh education dependent on teh government? You still haven’t answered it.
            Education used to be a high priority. Now it is mroe focused on social thinking and programming. And, yes, teh unions are a big part of that.

        • cardsfan67

          My wife is a teacher, Title 1 school, and she will tell you the Head Start/pre-school program is nothing but glorified babysitting, the school considers it a social learning thing so kids will know how to behave when they start Kindergarten. And it doesn’t work.
          Wrong about the unions and teacher pay, Georgia has no union and my wife makes a pretty good salary. My wife does not need a union to negotiate her salary, she knows what she brings to the table and exactly what that is worth. Unions are for the lazy and useless who band together with others to try to cover their lack of value. I truly do not understand why any hard working person would want to join a union. The bust their butt to do their job and watch some slug not do their job and get paid the same amount? Pointless. And please spare me the tripe about how if unions go away everyone will be working 23 hours a day for a nickel. The unions served their purpose, the standards are in place and won’t be turned back. Now they provide nothing but the union bosses a fat paycheck, unless you think Trumka really earns that 800k a year.

          I do agree with you about the high paid administrators though, the school my wife works at has 1600 students and for some reason they have 6 assistant principals making a 100k or more a year.

          And the minimum wage is not supposed to be the bogus “living wage” that the liberals have come up with.
          The system will never get fixed until parents start treating their children like a commitment and not an accomplishment. The parents expect teachers, like my wife to raise their kids, but flip out if they discipline their kids. Until parental invovlement becomes more of a factor nothing will change at all.
          Just my opinions

          • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

            Your wife is fortunate. …and sounds like an attentive teacher. We need more of those.

            I agree that sometimes unions are their own worst enemy. We should have the right to get rid of bad employees, including teachers, without invoking the wrath of the union. But let’s not forget why unions exist.

            “…until parents start treating their children like a commitment and not an accomplishment.” LOL, BEST LINE EVER!
            I whole heatedly agree!

            Just because I’m a liberal doesn’t mean I don’t believe in personal responsibility.

            Thanks for taking the time to talk, rather than rant.

    • Squirrel!

      My youngest goes to preschool part time. We also involve ourselves in teaching our children things & encouraging them to learn about things outside of school. Since what is expected of those entering K is such a low standard, I am to assume Head Start teaches minimal and apparently much money is spent for it per child. Nonetheless, education should not ONLY be left to the schools. Parental involvement goes a long way. There are a lot of kids who don’t have that.

      • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

        I agree with you. There is a lowered standard. That needs to change and there needs to be more parental involvement as well.

    • plaingolf

      Wow, a link from Time magazine. No bias there huh. Speaking of sources, please find a source that proves that the worst school systems get less money per pupil then the best school systems.

      • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

        Do you seriously think the well respected TIME magazine has a liberal bias? Seriously??


        • plaingolf

          Haha, you’re joking right? Time has been a liberal POS for many moons. You really have your head in the sand to believe otherwise.Even liberals will tell you that. I’m still waiting for your “more money = more value” education report. Maybe you could compare a high school in Newark with Princeton High School or something. I’ll even let a couple of cultural differences slip by.

          • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

            Whatever you say.

            How are you ever going to fully understand what’s going on in the world around you, if you aren’t willing to read more than one news source?

            Why do you think a moderate liberal like myself stumbled upon this one-sided opinion piece?

            You can’t even rely on the nightly news to give you a balanced, in depth story anymore. They’re too busy promoting their prime time lineup. The only way to get the whole story, is to do the research yourself. It’s exhausting! You actually have to read more than just headlines.

  • ECESupporter

    I love how you tout your science intellect by quoting two
    people’s opinion to a study. Why don’t you do some real research around ECE before making assumptions based on hearsay and then regurgitating it? Use Google Scholar to read some authentic research around Early Childhood Education. Yes, the Head Start Impact Study did find that the impact had disappeared by 3rd grade, however children receive 1, maybe 2, years of ECE instruction and have been in our country’s educational system for 4 years. But yet the blame falls on Head Start? That’s a logical

    • http://adignorantium.tumblr.com/ Frank

      Well said.

  • plaingolf

    Head Start is nothing but govt subsidized daycare. It has no link to education whatsoever.

  • GA

    Is this about school readiness or child readiness? Perhaps we need to look to the schools who receive ECE students and perhaps they aren’t prepared for the children in a developmentally appropriate way. ECE is not watered down elementary school education.

  • regmgr

    Has Head start help Kids in Detroit? I bet it hasn’t helped one bit. By the way are there any kids left in Detroit who go to school?

  • regmgr

    Has Head start help Kids in Detroit? I bet it hasn’t helped one bit. By the way are there any kids left in Detroit who go to school?