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Fight crime? A dubious program

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Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Use of evidence that's selective at best, discredited at worst, makes worthless a law-enforcement group's case for President Obama's 10-year, $75 billion universal preschool proposal.

Consisting of more than 5,000 police officers, sheriffs and prosecutors, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids just released a study that claims Mr. Obama's proposal would result in long-term savings equal to its cost by reducing future incarcerations, The Daily Caller reports.

Grover Whitehurst, director of the Brookings Institution's Brown Center on Education Policy, says the group's claims rely on at least one “seriously flawed” prior study. There's “no reason to believe that the treatment and control” groups of children in the Chicago study that concerned a pre-kindergarten program “were similar to begin with.” Yet that Chicago study is the “primary resource used for the estimates in the Fight Crime report.”

Mr. Whitehurst also says that even if early education does cut future “incarceration rates among disadvantaged kids, there is no reason to expect that expanding the program to children from middle-class families would have the same effect.” Yet that's essentially what Obama wants to do.

The federal government itself says Head Start, costing $8 billion annually, hasn't produced lasting benefits for disadvantaged kids — a far better argument against nearly doubling preschool spending for 10 years than any that the Fight Crime study makes for Obama's plan.

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