Pre-K? No Way

Among some conservative intellectuals and pundits, nothing says “government overreach” like public education spending.

This morning in the pages of National Review Online, Michelle Malkin spits some bile at President Obama’s plans to invest in universal early-childhood education.

As have other conservatives such as Lindsey Burke and Rachel Sheffield of the Heritage Foundation, Malkin denounces federally sponsored pre-kindergarten schooling in the harshest terms.

Malkin argues that the vaunted promises of universal pre-k don’t stand up to intelligent scrutiny.  As have other fed-skeptics, Malkin seems to mix up a few federal reports.  She refers second-hand to a journalist’s citation of a 2010 study of pre-k’s long-term effectiveness.  If she really wanted to bash federally sponsored universal pre-k, though, she would have been wiser to cite the Department of Health and Human Services 2012 follow-up to that study.  The 2010 study suggested that Head Start programs had a significant positive impact on children.  The 2012 follow-up, in contrast, implied that those positive effects dissipated by third grade (roughly age 7/8).  The numbers seem pretty clear: universal pre-k is not the simple social and educational panacea that some progressives had hoped for.

But more than just these policy arguments, Malkin thinks federally sponsored universal pre-k has a bigger moral problem.  As she puts it,

Let’s set all of this science aside for the moment. There’s a bigger elephant in the room. As I’ve pointed out for years, these cradle-to-grave government-education/day-care services encourage drive-through, drop-off parenting. Subsidizing this phenomenon cheats children, undermines family responsibilities, and breeds resentment among childless workers who are forced to pay for costly social services.

Perhaps this moral dilemma is the reason why Malkin is not overly concerned with the social-science exactitude of her sources.  Her argument goes like this: federally sponsored pre-k doesn’t work.  And even if it did, it would still lead our society in morally monstrous directions.


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  1. Happy holidays. Conservatism is like an inner fascism, isn’t it? OR its a fascism that just hasn’t metastasized fully yet. I was thinking about quoting Mister Communism himself, Jesus Christ (Luke 10:21), but meh


  2. So many things still come back to “traditional family and values”, it seems. While there are plenty of problems to address with modern education and family situations, simply wishing for all families to be perfect, intact, middle class, stay-at-home-mom/work-at-home-dad situations does not make it so. Nor does it make this 50’s-style home the only recipe for child success. How many families nowadays have a parent that stays at home all the way until kindergarten without putting their child in daycare at all? What would make these conservative pundits even think that this is a healthy thing?

    I work with working adults at a career college that offers accelerated associates degrees. Many of my students are single parents with kids, or extremely low-income families trying to make ends meet with minimum wage jobs. They struggle to balance school with work with family. Many of them are trying to get their Associates degrees in order to better support their family in the future and to give their kids a leg-up in life. So yes, of course they use daycare, babysitters, family members, and any other aid to watch their kids while they work and go to school. When I have these students in my mind, it makes me bristle to see conservative writers complain that parents who put their kids in daycare are irresponsible and they are cheating their families. I see parents that are sacrificing sleep, money, time, and energy to try to give their kids the best they can. She sees “drive thru/drop off parenting.” I can’t help but think that Michelle Malkin has never even tried to walk in my students’ shoes for a day. And until she has… how DARE she judge them for doing what it takes to give their families a better chance. Her ignorance of real life is pathetic, but it becomes disgusting when she uses that ignorance as a method to shame those less fortunate than she clearly is. I am outraged.

    Yeah, this sort of thing really gets my hackles up. Sorry for the long rant.

    • No apologies needed for the long rant. I can barely look at Malkin, much less listen to her. It’s so scary that some see her as an intellectual. She is a bomb thrower, and not a very good one, at that.

  3. Michelle Malkin is known for spitting bile in every place, at every moment. She makes Ann Coulter look kind and gracious. I spend no time at all on Malkin. We should all ignore her until she goes away. Such rhetoric doesn’t always have to be given a platform.


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