David Kirp has an op-ed on the mixed outcomes of universal Pre-K programs.
“Money doesn’t guarantee good outcomes, but it helps,” they say.
Even as more 4-year-olds attend pre-K, many states are delivering it on the cheap. While Boston spends $10,000 for each preschooler, in 2014 the average expenditure, nationwide, was $4,125. That’s $1,000 less (adjusted for inflation) than the 2002 average — and a third of what’s spent for each K-12 student. In education, as in much of life, you get what you pay for.
I can definitely tell the difference when an incoming Kindergartener has or has not been to school before. A year of Kindergarten will mitigate those differences. A child’s individual development will also likely determine whether the impacts of pre-K are realized or simply vanish.
But rather than speculate about the impacts of money and whether low-income children are equally deserving of adequate investment, let’s spend a year or two, maybe three, on giving all children in all corners of every major American city the same resources and investment as the most prestigious preschool around.
Should those outcomes not arrive, despite massive investment, then I’ll eat my words. I will never advocate for more money ever again. I would also urge the “more-money-is-not-a-guarantee’ crowd to tell families in more affluent areas to cease wasting their time and energy on those big PTA fundraisers that collect many thousands of additional dollars to support their child’s school.
Money doesn’t matter.