Last week president Obama spoke on the economy at Northwestern University. As he’s insisted in the past, the president apparently thinks more government schooling will drive the economy:
If we make high-quality preschool available to every child, not only will we give our kids a safe place to learn and grow while their parents go to work; we’ll give them the start that they need to succeed in school, and earn higher wages, and form more stable families of their own. In fact, today, I’m setting a new goal: By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool. That is an achievable goal that we know will make our workforce stronger.
The failure of government preschool is by now well documented. (See here, here, here, here, and here, for example). But here’s the basic flaw in this type of thinking: if ours were a centrally-planned, top-down economy, then a one-size-fits-all government preschool system would “work” just fine.
Little ones would be warehoused for the day while their parents worked in factories, mines, farms, or whatever other occupation centralized planners thought was best.
The American economy is as dynamic and diverse as Americans themselves are. That’s why education options at every level must be as diverse. Once government gets involved in schooling, innovative, personalized options—including the choice to educate children at home—gets crowded out.
What’s more, how exactly is government preschool supposed to drive the economy decades down the road if its impacts start fading out as early as first grade?
Instead of pushing a government preschool-for- all agenda, we should be focused on education options for all.