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Studies show universal preschool isn’t as great as Obama says

Forget gun control! President Barack Obama has a new plan to reduce violent crime: Preschool for all!

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the President outlined his vision for universal preschool, arguing that early schooling can help children succeed and diminish negative behaviors and outcomes.

“Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime,” Obama assured the country that’s currently in $16.4 trillion in debt.

While Obama’s vision for preschool sounds nice, it isn’t based in fact.

One of the main studies universal preschool advocates like Obama highlight is the The Perry Program in Michicgan that boasted a $7.16 return on investment, because more students who went through the program graduated from high school, found a job and earned more than those who didn’t go through the program. What they don’t tell you is that this study used a very small sample size and would be very hard to recreate, according to The Heritage Foundation. Not to mention, no other preschool program has been nearly as successful as the Perry Program.

In fact, studies by Stanford University and the University of California showed that attending preschool can actually cause bad behavior, not reduce it like Obama claims, possibly because students are spending less time with their parents at such a crucial age.

Obama also cited Oklahoma and Georgia, two states that provide universal preschool to 4-year-olds, as an argument for his case.

“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job and form more stable families of their own,” he said on Tuesday.”So let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”

In 2008, Georgia spent $325 million and Oklahoma spend $139 million on their respective preschool programs. So do the benefits outweigh the costs like Obama promises? The evidence says no. Studies show that students who attend preschool lose any academic edge over those who didn’t by the third grade, according to Heritage.

And when Connecticut sought to provide universal preschool last September, the program was estimated to cost the state $43.8 million a year and $220.6 million on top of that to build classrooms, according to The CT Mirror.

And that’s just one state. Imagine how much it would cost to provide preschool to the whole country.