Fox Vilifies Preschool Access Expansion As Obama “Handing Out The Goodies”

Fox News dismissed universal preschool education as a government handout and cast doubt on its effectiveness, despite studies showing that it helps children.

Recently, President Obama called for making access to preschool universal for four-year-old children, a program that would help states fund more preschool programs.

Fox Business host Stuart Varney pilloried this proposal, concluding that it is designed to “hand out the goodies” to future voters. Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy questioned whether children will benefit from preschool education past childhood. 

Research shows that preschool education has a positive impact on child development. A September 2008 Brookings Institution research brief on state preschool programs found that they “have positive impacts on children's cognitive skills, including both pre-reading and pre-math skills” and that preschool programs effectively improve a child's “readiness to learn.” And, while all children gain from preschool education, the Brookings research brief stated that “the impacts are largest among disadvantaged children,” with disadvantaged children participating in preschool programs experiencing larger gains in math and reading skills than the rest of the children that attended these programs.

The Center for American Progress noted that without preschool or like programs disadvantaged children are:

  • 25 percent more likely to drop out of school
  • 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent
  • 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education
  • 60 percent more likely never to attend college
  • 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime

Additionally, according to the Economic Policy Institute, preschool education “would have a substantial payoff in the future as such a program would ultimately reduce costs for remedial and special education, criminal justice, and child welfare, and would increase income earned and taxes paid,” despite high upfront costs. And according to Scholastic, "[e]conomists say that the return for every dollar invested in preschool can be anywhere from $2 to $17 when you total the drop in special education, grade repetition, and crime, and add the value of a more productive workforce."

The Children's Learning Institute provided the following chart depicting the efficacy of various forms of government childhood investment, showing preschool education to be the most effective: