May 5, 2010

Resolution Supports Early Education Programs

On Tuesday, the Colorado Legislature introduced a resolution to recognize the importance and quality of early education programs. The resolution encourages government schools statewide to implement early education programs in an effort to “promote optimal well-being in children and well-being as adults.” It even urges the federal government to become involved by suggesting they offer early learning challenge grants to states committed to providing early education programs.

Not only does this resolution promote a government-funded babysitting program, the resolution contains several statements that are untrue. Primarily, the resolution states that early education programs prepare children to learn in the primary grades, decreasing the likelihood that children will experience early school failure, become dependent on public assistance, or become involved in criminal activities.

Our research indicates otherwise. Many education experts have concluded that beginning a child’s formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later. According to the 2005 NAEP test scores of children from states that have low compulsory attendance ages (5–6), these children did not score any higher than children from the other states, and in some subjects their average was actually lower.

In fact, a report published February 6, 2007 by the Goldwater Institute examined Stanford 9 test scores taken by students who attended early kindergarten programs, and found that their learning was initially improved, but had no measurable impact on reading, math, or language arts test scores by 5th grade.

The data show that students in schools with all-day kindergarten programs have statistically significant higher 3rd-grade test scores, but there is no impact on 5th-grade scores. This finding is consistent with previous research. Forcing children into school early delivers short-term benefits at best.

For more information on early education, please see our issue analysis of Compulsory attendance age legislation.

HSLDA is opposing this resolution, not only for its fallacies, but because it threatens to erode the freedom of parents to direct the education of their children at all ages. While the resolution is only encouraging optional early education programs, history shows us that there will be subsequent pressure to make these programs mandatory, universal, and funded with taxpayer dollars.

 Other Resources

HSLDA Legislative Analysis—Senate Joint Resolution 47: Promoting Early Education