Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review June 14, 1999 /31 Sivan, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Tony Snow
Michael Barone
Dave Barry
Kathleen Parker
Dr. Laura
Michael Kelly
Bob Greene
Michelle Malkin
Paul Greenberg
David Limbaugh
David Corn
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Richard Chesnoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg


Impervious to the evidence --
WELL, THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE of 2000 has arrived, and you know what that means -- infield practice for columnists.

The candidates will consult their focus groups and polls and then offer up the "scientifically" proven recipes voters will respond to. Political reporters will ignore these proposals utterly, focusing exclusively on how the candidates are doing in the polls and how much money they are raising.

It falls to your servant, and others like her, to examine the policies of our would-be leaders.

Let's start with Vice President Al Gore's recent call for "universal preschool." Speaking in Iowa, the vice president said preschool should no longer be voluntary but should encompass "every child, in every community in America."

His generous friends at the National Education Association must be smacking their lips over that one. (They will savor his whole package, which also includes hiring 2.2 million new teachers and paying college students a $10,000 bonus if they elect to become teachers.) Providing preschool education to 20 million new captives, er, clients per year would mean more work and greater pay for teachers.

As with so many Democratic proposals for more government, this one sounds pleasant enough. Preschool programs like Head Start have achieved the status of totem in American politics. Question them, and you are certain to be deemed a heretic.

They are totems because they appeal to the very soul of the liberal project: to equalize life's outcomes for everyone.

Liberals and conservatives look at the lamentable gap between the academic performance of whites and Asians on the one hand, and blacks and Hispanics on the other, and see quite different solutions. The first liberal solution is to deny the truth: Kill the offending tests. The Clinton Education Department has proposed to make reliance on tests like the SAT, on which Asians and whites outperform "minorities" (though Asians are, of course, a minority), illegal.

The liberals' second solution is to expand and increase big, federal spending programs that sound benevolent but make absolutely no difference. Exhibit A: preschool intervention.

As the Cato Institute's Darcy Olsen relates, when Head Start was launched 33 years ago, Lyndon Johnson and his bevy of reformers were certain that they could prevent "poverty's children" from becoming "poverty's captives." By providing early schooling, Head Start would get poor, disadvantaged children ready for kindergarten, would raise their IQs, would divert them from a life of unemployment and crime, and would make them more productive citizens.

The program has had a 33-year run, and has been reauthorized and expanded again and again. It has achieved immortality despite the fact that it doesn't work.

In 1997, the General Accounting Office reviewed all of the studies that had been done on Head Start around the nation and found that while some benefits were found among Head Start kids vs. a control group while the children were enrolled in the program, those benefits disappeared very soon after the children began their formal schooling. Within five years, no difference was found between Head Start and non-Head Start kids.

It's a shame. The world would be a much easier place to live in if well- intended programs like Head Start could really obliterate the effects of poverty, poor parenting and bad schools. But just because the news is unwelcome does not give us license to ignore it.

Conservatives look at data like this and other data -- such as the fact that we are now spending twice as much (inflation adjusted) on primary and secondary education as we did in the 1960s and yet students' performance has plummeted -- and conclude that more spending isn't the answer. More radical yet: Maybe more spending makes the problem worse. If our primary schools are already failing at their principal task -- to teach grades kindergarten through eight -- by what logic shall we hand them ages 3 and 4 to similarly disserve?

Regarding the varying performance of blacks and whites (broadly speaking), perhaps black scores could be improved if so many black children were not trapped in poor schools.

Al Gore wants his education proposals to show his seriousness as a candidate. Instead, what they show is his imperviousness to evidence.

JWR contributor Mona Charen reads all of her mail. Let her know what you think by clicking here. Please bear in mind, though, that while all letters are read, due to the heavy amount of traffic, not all letters can be answered.


06/09/99:Unsung heroes
06/01/99: For $ale
05/26/99: Best friend these girls ever had
05/24/99: Baby Hope continued
05/20/99: Say no to the Gore tax
05/17/99: Baby Hope
05/13/99: Other high crimes
05/10/99:Three cheers for uniforms
05/05/99: Voucher opponents' worst nightmare
05/03/99: Lessons of Columbine High
04/28/99: Kevorkian is stopped
04/26/99: "Senseless tragedy"?
04/22/99: Hey, hey, ... Bubba
04/19/99: Why we are in Kosovo
04/15/99: Hooray for the NYPD
04/09/99: How to do something about taxes
04/06/99:Can the private sector handle foster care?
03/31/99: The Flower Child goes to war
03/29/99: Foreign-policy meltdown
03/25/99: 'Just doin' it'
03/22/99: Return of pay equity?
03/16/99: St. Hillary
03/10/99: Rodney King in perspective
03/08/99: Monica's story: No morals
03/04/99: Not home but library alone:
3/02/99: Tuning our racial sensitivities
2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
2/01/99: What did he say?
1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
1/05/99: Try him!
12/30/98: The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1999, Creators Syndicate