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p>Vermont’s Early Childhood Steering Committee (ECSC) is circulating a report titled Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, as part of their rationale for implementing universal, taxpayer-funded preschool in Vermont. It is blatantly dishonest. In reality, the kind of program U-Pre-K advocates are pushing for in Vermont could have some serious, negative repercussions for our police.
First of all, providing universal preschool for all 15,000 Vermont 3 & 4 year olds will be massively expensive. The money will come from the same taxpayers who fund our law enforcement efforts. Tens of millions of property tax dollars moving into universal preschool programs will inevitably make money for law enforcement harder to come by.
This might be worth the trade-off if the claims made by U-Pre-K advocates were based at all in reality. They are not.
Here’s the deception….
Fighting Crime, Invest in Kids bases its conclusions primarily on the High Scope Perry Preschool Project, a clinical study that began in the mid-1960s for severely at risk children. In a nutshell, High Scope took 123 inner-city African American three- and four-year-olds deemed to be at risk for “retarded intellectual functioning and eventual school failure.” Only 58 of these kids actually received the treatment, the rest were in the control group and did not. All of the children were of low socioeconomic status and had IQs in the range of 70 to 85.73. The program involved either one or two years of half-day preschool for seven months each year and periodic home visits. The teachers who ran the project were highly trained with degrees in education, early education, and special education.
This was, indeed, “high quality early education” and it did achieve impressive results for highly at risk children. But High Scope does not resemble in any way, shape, or form the program that is being proposed – and labeled “high quality” -- here in Vermont today.
Universal Preschool supporters in Vermont are talking about just 10 hours a week of subsidized care overseen by a licensed teacher for all kids, regardless of whether they are “at-risk” or not. What can the High Scope experiment lead us to expect from U-Pre-K in Vermont? NOTHING! This is worse than an apples to oranges comparison, it’s apples to peas.
The Fight Crime brief is like telling police that Kevlar body armor has been tested, and it’s proven to saves lives -- then wrapping an officer’s chest in tinfoil and sending him or her out onto the streets under the false impression it is the same thing. Not only is this dishonest, it is dangerous.
So, what implications would universal preschool “the Vermont way” really have for law enforcement?
A February 2006 analysis done for the C.D. Howe Institute in Canada regarding Quebec’s real-world, fully-implemented universal preschool program determined: “We studied a wide range of measures of child well-being, from anxiety and hyperactivity to social and motor skills. For almost every measure, we find that the increased use of childcare was associated with a decrease in their well-being relative to other children. For example, reported fighting and other measures of aggressive behaviour increased substantially…. [And] the amount of time through the first 4.5 years of life that a child spends away from his or her mother is a predictor of assertiveness, disobedience, and aggression.
“Furthermore, we find that several important measures of well-being show parents to be worse off. The survey data showed that mothers of the children in daycare were more depressed, as indicated by the significant rise in their depression scores relative to the average. The quality of their parenting practices declined, as measured by responses to questions on consistency, hostile or ineffective parenting, and "aversive interactions.” They also reported a significant deterioration in the quality of their relationship with their partners, as measured by mothers’ reports of their satisfaction with their spousal relationship….
I will leave it to members of Vermont’s law enforcement community to estimate what the real world results will be on crime statistics when more aggressive, disobedient and assertive kids are going home to more depressed, hostile, ineffectual parents in deteriorating spousal relationships.
I hope members of Vermont’s police and sheriff’s departments will see through the deception universal preschool advocates are perpetrating, and support a common sense policy that limits scarce early education resources to at-risk kids only. This is what’s best for Vermont’s families and children, and, in the end, Vermont’s law enforcement community as well.
-- Rob Roper is the State Director for FreedomWorks-Vermont and Editor of the FreedomWorks/Vermont Education Report (www.freedomworks.org/vermont/)
(View Fight Crime: Invest in Kids brief for yourself here: http://www.fightcrime.org/issue_earlyed.php),
(View the High Scope Perry Preschool Project for yourself at: http://www.highscope.org/Research/PerryProject/perrymain.htm)
(View the C. D. Howe Institute study for yourself here: http://www.ciqss.umontreal.ca/Documents/ebrief_25_english.pdf)