Below is the testimony presented to the Senate Education Committee earlier today regarding SB 69, an act establishing a commission to study social impact bond funding for early childhood education for at-risk students.
The Senate Education Committee is likely to hold an executive session next week to vote on this bill. There is still time to contact the committee members. Please ask them to OPPOSE this legislation and vote it Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL).
Senate Education Committee
Sen. John Reagan, Chairman firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. Nancy Stiles, Vice Chairman email@example.com
Sen. Kevin Avard Kevin.Avard@leg.state.nh.us
Sen. Molly Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
Sen. David Watters email@example.com
To: Senate Education Committee
From: Michelle Levell representing School Choice for NH and the NH Liberty Alliance (NHLA)
Re: SB 69 an act establishing a commission to study social impact bond funding for early childhood education for at-risk students
New Hampshire does not need a commission to study the impact of early childhood education for at-risk students. Programs have been in existence for decades and analysis shows them to be colossal failures.
The federal program, Head Start, is the prime example of good intentions that fail. In 2012 the federal department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a study that condemns the four-decade $200 billion experiment as a massive failure. HHS hid the report for years and released it just prior to the holidays in an attempt to bury the results. Like previous studies, this 2012 report shows that Head Start does not have lasting benefits to young students. The studies that suggest positive gains are also controversial and subject to multiple criticisms. There are other reports with mixed results.
As examples, Georgia and Oklahoma were two of the earliest states to adopt universal preschool programs. Since implementing them almost 20 years ago, neither state has significant graduation rate improvements and they have failed to close the reading achievement gap between white and minority students. Additionally, OK ranks near the bottom in math and science.
Other states, like New York, have more recently implemented universal preschool, but there is widespread debate whether it favors wealthy families or if it should be targeted to low-income families and at-risk children. States also disagree how to fund these expensive programs and how to define success or “high quality.”
Additionally it can be argued that universal preschool is developmentally inappropriate or even harmful to young children with a classroom’s overemphasis on academics and not enough unstructured play. These early childhood programs also ignore that children learn at different rates.
Analysis of early childhood education programs tend to focus on costs vs. benefits and long-term economic gains. This ignores that children are people and are important beyond their “return on investment.”
Is this just another way of chasing federal funds from the Preschool for All program? Unfortunately, enacting programs to chase federal dollars has not been a responsible way to bring about reform. All too often the mandatory strings attached to these programs end up costing more than the money they provide.
Currently New Hampshire law requires all children to attend school if they are six years old by September 30th. While many states are lowering the age for compulsory attendance, could taxpayer-funded, or eventually mandatory preschool be far off, particularly in light of President Obama’s recent remarks? On October 31, 2014 Mr. Obama said, “Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.” Further, in a June 2013 speech, Education Secretary Arne Duncan implied that there is something wrong when families do not enroll in preschool programs.
New Hampshire has been a long-time leader in education excellence. The grand goals of Head Start and other preschool programs for at-risk students have not materialized. New Hampshire does not need a large commission to waste time and money to study this further. The findings are already available and very clear. NH does not need to be a lemming of a yet another failed education experiment.
Resources for this analysis: