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New Study: Universal Preschool May Hurt Children, Not Help

Support for universal preschool seems to be growing, with everyone from President Obama to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio actively encouraging it.

But a new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research shows that universal preschool may not offer the wonderful outcomes it promises. In fact, preschool may actually be a detriment to many children.

Beginning in 1997, the study examined a heavily used childcare program (akin to universal preschool) in Quebec, Canada. Contrary to popular studies like the oft-referenced Perry Preschool Program, which simply catered to a small number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Quebec program included a vast number of children from all walks of life.

After nearly 20 years the students – particularly males – who received expanded access to childcare under the Quebec program saw significant negative effects, including:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased aggression
  • Increased crime rates
  • Minimal improvement in academics
  • Decreased health
  • Decreased life satisfaction

Given these results, might it be wise to reconsider support for universal preschool programs?

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