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Taxpayers Beware Preschool Initiative




*This is the second of a series preschool and early child development. Click here for part one.

Sadly, Governor Mike Rounds has bought into the early learning scheme that advocates who claim they are “for the children” are utilizing to eventually turn the taxpayers’ pockets inside out. The governor’s January 9 state-of-the-state address revealed a plan to start a 3-year pilot preschool project in the Sioux Falls School District, which would be used as a model for the expansion of preschool to “other communities of varying sizes and differing resources.”

South Dakota taxpayers beware! Do you realize the taxes you believe you are paying for K-12 education now fund what is called “early childhood development” as well?

“Infant-toddler training” is coming right in on early childhood’s coattails. The education establishment tells us this is all justified because of research like the Perry Preschool Project—which is a very archaic 1960s study of merely 123 inner-city children with IQs around only 80. The Perry Project certainly does not reflect South Dakota, and it has never been replicated or peer-reviewed, i.e., accepted as valid or useful by experts in research. (1) Again, sadly, Governor Rounds mentioned this “junk science” in his January 9th address, as major justification for expansion of preschool all over South Dakota.

The Perry Project is in good company with an extremely huge cauldron of other unscientific “studies.” Of 12,395 “brain-based” studies since the 1970s used to promote early childhood (i.e., education under the age of 5), less than 1% were actually performed on children. 95% of the studies were done on animals.(2) Why would South Dakota taxpayers, including parents and teachers, be duped with such flawed studies? I believe it is simply that the educrats and so-called child advocates have infiltrated every nook and cranny of our existence, resulting in few questions about their reasons for or the motives behind their push for more education of children at ever younger and younger ages.

Take Head Start, for instance. Who could be against helping low-income children get a “head start” on school and “learning readiness”? Surprisingly, a co-founder of Head Start, that is who. Dr. Ed Zigler has implored policymakers not to overestimate the ability of preschool:

"…the arguments in favor of preschool education were that it would reduce school failure, lower drop-out rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates. Preschool education will achieve none of these results." (3)

SB 170, an education funding bill during the 2006 legislative session, contained an option for schools to gain more funding by starting pre-schools for 4 year olds. How would this benefit the children and the taxpayer? The state of Georgia has published results with universal preschool from 1990-2000. "At a cost of $1.5 billion to serve over 300,000 children, student test scores have remained the same."(4)

There is absolutely no need to do a great overhaul in education in SD because of problems with student achievement. One indicator, the NAEP tests, shows that our young people are doing very well in math and reading. Scores at the 4th and 8th grade levels are better overall than at least 43 other states.(5) What a badge of distinction for our elementary students, their teachers and parents!

Secretary of Education Melmer has told us that it is high school achievement scores that are deficient. It appears money would be better spent assisting our young people at the secondary level rather than implementing early childhood and eventually infant-toddler training that would be a total boondoggle. Why not fix what is broken, not what is healthy?

How long before options become mandates? Whether an option or a mandate, invariably all will eventually be paid for by our tax dollars. Again I say, taxpayers beware!

Cindy Flakoll is a farm/ranch wife in McPherson County. She is also Legislative Liaison for Concerned Women for America of South Dakota. Concerned Women for America, a women'
s public policy organization, has more than 500,000 members nationwide.



[1]Lifetime Effects: The High/Scope Perry Preschool Project,” High/Scope Educational Research  Foundation.

[2] Eagle Forum Education Reporter, Vol. 238, Nov. 2005, “Animal Studies Behind Promotion of Early Childhood Education

[3] The full report (POLICY report, Goldwater Institute, No. 201, Feb. 8, 2005) is available with footnotes at: http://www.goldwaterinstitute.org/pdf/materials/542.pdf  

[4] Ibid.

[5]NAEP results show South Dakota above national average,” Oct. 19, 2005, Governor’s press release 

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