What’s Behind Free Preschool?


The Obama administration wants to add government funding for preschool to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. If he gets his way, public school won’t just mean K through 12 any longer. Unfortunately, even if Congress refuses, there’s enough momentum for preschool at the state and local levels that it’s likely to happen eventually.

There’s excitement from politicians and from many parents about this preschool idea. But the odd part is that there’s very little data that tells us preschool is necessary or worth the cost. The weak evidence we have suggests that preschool provides only slight verbal gains for children…and for most kids, those gains disappear in the next couple of years. There’s not much interest in the data, though. Public preschool is similar to all-day kindergarten, an idea that’s been swallowed by school districts in the last ten or fifteen years. There wasn’t much data to back that up either, but nobody really cared.

It’s understandable that parents may see public preschool as something for nothing, and for working parents, it’s free daycare. But why do politicians like it so much? Our schools are already failing the kids they have, but the government is suggesting we turn our kids over at younger and younger ages. Why are they so eager to fund early childhood education at a level that would have seemed crazy just a couple decades ago?

At best, this is an attempt to make us even more beholden to the government with another free goody. But there’s a more sinister side to this: throughout history, the most extensive public school systems have been found in the most totalitarian countries. Getting children at younger and younger ages does not help them learn to read better, but it certainly gets them away from their parents and under state control for many hours each day.

Free preschool doesn’t make kids better citizens or better students; it makes them more dedicated to control by government.

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Contributing Editor, Phyllis Schlafly, is the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, a national radio show host, and a best-selling author.

Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.