Education
President Barack Obama greets students and other attendees after speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 27, 2012. Jewel Samad/Getty Images. President Barack Obama greets students and other attendees after speaking at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 27, 2012. Jewel Samad/Getty Images.  

Obama pitches federal childcare, downplays science, cost

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Meanwhile, White House are highlighting more favorable results from a few smaller studies.

The HighScope Perry Preschool Study tracked only 123 kids since 1962, and reported significant benefits even as the kids entered their 40s.

The Chicago Child-Parent Center Program followed 1,286 youth from 1980 to 2001. “Relative to the comparison group, preschool participants had a 29 percent higher rate of high school completion, a 33 percent lower rate of juvenile arrest, a 42 percent reduction in arrest for a violent offense, a 41 percent reduction in special education placement, a 40 percent reduction in the rate of grade retention, and a 51 percent reduction in child maltreatment,” read a paper by the study’s authors.

“With an average cost per child of $6,730 (1998 dollars) for 1.5 years of participation, the preschool program generated a total return to society at large of $47,759 per participant,” the authors wrote.

Those studies showed that “when you look at the return [on $1 of investment] to taxpayers, it is in excess of $7,” said Roberto Rodriguez, a special assistant to the president.

“Hope is found in what works,” Obama said during a Feb. 14 speech in Decatur, Georgia. “This works. We know it works. If you are looking for a good bang for your educational buck, this is it right here,” he said.

But he coupled that message with his political pitch to voters eager for a childcare service.

“The size of your paycheck, though, shouldn’t determine your child’s future,” Obama declared. “Let’s fix this, let’s make sure none of our kids start out the race of life already a step behind.”

Obama’s proposal to create a national daycare system was matched his new proposal to create a federal parenting-support service.

The service would be a “evidence-based and voluntary home-visiting program,” in which the federal government would pay nurses, social workers and other professionals to provide advice to parents in their homes, Rodriquez said.

Both plans call for the child-rearing officials to be paid the same rate as teachers.

Munoz declined to say how much the proposed federal childcare program would cost. Cost estimates will be provided in the president’s budget request for 2014, she told reporters during a Feb. 14 press conference.

But, she added, “this is not going to add a nickel to the deficit.”

None of the reporters from the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News or the Huffington Post asked Munoz or Rodriguez about the government’s Head Start study.

The proposed federal childcare system is unlikely to be approved in Congress, partly because the GOP opposes spending increases Democrats will like request to pay for it without adding to the deficit.

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