Obama's Pre-K: Minimal Benefit, Maximum Cost

New research shows that there are few benefits to universal pre-kindergarten programs despite high costs.

President Barack Obama has a costlyplanto provide free preschool to every 4-year-old, and New York mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio is borrowing a page from it. The theory is that participation in "high-quality'" programs at a young age makes kids from poor backgrounds more likely to succeed as adults. Some also arguethat free preschool programs help women remain in the workforce after having children. An important new study of "high-quality" universal pre-kindergarten programs by Dartmouth's Elizabeth Cascio and Northwestern's Diane Schanzenbach presented last week at the Brookings Institution's Panel of Economic Activity finds little evidence to support either argument, however.

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