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Pre-K Fails to Perform (Jamie Story)

Organizations and lawmakers across the country are leading the charge for publicly-funded, universal pre-kindergarten.

Last month, “Pre-K Now” held its annual satellite conference, reaching more than 1,500 supporters in 35 states. The event included live interviews with the Governors of Connecticut and Tennessee, and legislators from Texas and elsewhere—all of whom heralded the benefits of pre-K for all children. 

Advocates claim universal pre-K will result in increased test scores, lower dropout rates, and students who are better prepared for a global economy. The evidence suggests otherwise.

United States fourth-graders perform well compared to their international peers – including France, whose fourth-graders trail the United States despite having access to universal preschool. But by the time American students reach high school, they rank near the bottom of all industrialized countries. At the same time, we spend more educating each student than almost any other country in the world. 

Our education bureaucracy is spending vast resources for dismal results. Further expanding this ineffective system to encompass toddlers is the last thing we should do – especially when evidence suggests our focus should be on the upper grades. 

Numerous researchers have studied the academic effects of preschool. While some studies have found positive effects for disadvantaged children, these benefits do not apply universally. Only one study has examined the long-term benefits of preschool on non-disadvantaged children. Its conclusion: children in programs not targeted to disadvantaged populations were no better off than those not attending any preschool.

In fact, research has shown preschool can actually hinder social development, especially for children from the poorest families.

In cases where students do benefit, the results are typically short-lived. Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara – in the largest-scale longitudinal research of its kind – found that the academic gains made

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School Choice and Racial Integration Go Hand in Hand (Dan Lips)

Opponents of parental choice in education argue that school choice increases racial segregation. But a new review of the research evidence suggests that giving parents the freedom to choose their children’s schools has actually increased racial integration.

More than fifty years have passed since Brown v. Board of Education outlawed racial segregation in American public schools. Many policies, including school busing, were implemented to promote integration in public education in the decades that followed. Yet many American public schools remain segregated along racial lines.

Even with years of improvement in race relations, this result shouldn’t be a surprise. The public school system assigns students to schools based on where they live, which means that a public school is only as diverse as its community. The combination of segregated housing patterns and location-based school assignment has created an environment in which millions of children attend largely segregated public schools.

But not all schools are stuck. In a new report from the Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, Dr. Greg Forster reviews the research on school choice and integration and concludes that school choice improves school diversity.  He also explains why the “claims made by voucher opponents are empirically unsupportable” in two specific ways.  

First, empirical research finds “no substantial difference between segregation levels in public and private schools.” Instead, “at the classroom level, a preferable level of analysis, the research indicates that private schools actually are less segregated than public schools.” And “even at the school level, the research finds no substantial difference between public and private schools.”   

Second, school voucher programs do not lead to segregation. In fact, the opposite is true. In Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C., voucher students’ private schools are more racially integrated  than the public schools the students would otherwise have attended. 

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Harry Potter and the Prisoners of Radical Islam (Nancy Salvato)

I find myself not wanting to waste precious time commenting on the mainstream news story about the Gwinnett County Georgia mom who wants Harry Potter books taken out of the elementary school because the series encourages “witchcraft and evil.”  However, the fact that the school board is even considering her request compels me to write a column in order to lend some much needed perspective to this particular uninformed and inane distraction from larger concerns in the area of school reform and religious indoctrination. 

To begin, I must disclose that I whole heartedly agree with Gwinnett County, Georgia Schools attorney Victoria Sweeny’s opinion that, “Harry Potter promotes reading and good values.”  Furthermore, she is absolutely correct when she says that, “The major themes are good versus evil, overcoming adversity, loyalty, friendship and courage,” which I believe are all important ideas for kids to consider during their formative years.  More needs to be said, though, in order to frame this ridiculous issue in its proper context.  

We are facing clear and immediate dangers to our way of life and shouldn’t waste time entertaining the paranoid delusions of any person(s) declaring that Wicca is being proselytized through the Harry Potter series, especially anyone who hasn’t bothered to read an entire book. Indeed, from everything I’ve ever read about Wicca, it is a very peaceful practice.  A good site to read more can be found here.  

Yet, one can conclude that another religious practice is spreading evil amongst us; those who believe in the inalienable rights of every person to pursue life, liberty, and happiness; and respect and defend the U.S. Constitution which protects these rights.  As Mehdi Mozaffari explains on the History News Network website, Islamism is ‘an ideology bearing a holistic vision of Islam

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