Will wrong on early childhood education

To the editor:

The intellectually pretentious and snide George Will makes false assertions about socially beneficial government programs in his latest column. He is flat wrong in claiming that the benefits of early childhood education are “implausible and utterly unsubstantiated.”

Early childhood programs like Head Start have been widely studied and found to be successful. Economic research concerning such social investments shows they yield benefits that far exceed their costs and contribute importantly to the welfare of children, especially among the poor. Children in such programs improve their ability to learn, long-term crime rates are reduced, and the child’s need of special education services is markedly lessened.

Perhaps more importantly, those enrolled in early childhood programs generally earn more as adults, pay more in tax revenue and contribute to society by being more economically productive citizens.

Nobel laureate economist James Heckman is but one of many prominent economists who support and favor significant government funding of preschool learning programs.

In his book “The Rhetoric of Reaction,” economist-turned-philosopher Albert O. Hirschman cited traditional conservative arguments commonly used to attack social reforms. Among them was the criticism that reform allegedly hurts the very people it hopes to help and the such reforms incur costs only to end in failure.

On both counts, the success of early childhood education prove those conservative arguments to be fallacious.

Free-market cheerleader George Will should get in step with the times, check his own factoids and refrain from spreading misinformation about a valuable government effort to lessen the inequities in American society.

Bruce Dudley