"The data is very clear on all of this," Ballard said, pointing to statistics that show kids with access to good early education do better in school in the long-term, are more likely to move on to higher education, and - if they come from low-income backgrounds - are less likely to go on welfare as adults or be arrested.Contrary to Mayor Ballard's claim, there have been several studies out there that show that investing money in early childhood education offers no long-term benefits. The most recent is the Vanderbilt study which looked at a Tennessee voluntary early childhood education program (TN-VPK) aimed at assisting low income families: I quote from the study published in August of 2013:
The relatively large effects of TN‐VPK on the Woodcock Johnson achievement measures found at the end of the pre‐k year were greatly diminished and no longer statistically significant at the end of the kindergarten year. The only exception was a marginally significant negative effect on Passage Comprehension such that nonparticipants had higher scores at the end of the kindergarten year than TN‐VPK participants.
Similarly, at the end of first grade, there were no statistically significant differences between TN‐VPK participants and nonparticipants on the Woodcock Johnson achievement measures with one exception. There was a significant difference that favored the nonparticipant group on the Quantitative Concept subscale.
These diminished effects were not entirely unexpected in light of the findings in other longitudinal studies of the effects of early childhood programs on economically disadvantaged children. For preschool programs, a typical finding is that the cognitive effects are not sustained for very long after that initial year. Though none of those other studies investigated the effects of a single year of a scaled up state‐funded public pre‐k program, many involved even more intensive programs that nonetheless failed to show effects on cognitive achievement measures that were sustained for very long. Like TN‐VPK, however, these programs did not involve any continuous, focused support in subsequent years for sustaining the gains made during the initial program year.