Tags: Barack Obama | pre-k proposal | barack obama | washington post | stretch | ratio

WaPo: Obama's Assertion on Pre-K Proposal a 'Stretch' at Best

Image: WaPo: Obama's Assertion on Pre-K Proposal a 'Stretch' at Best
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By    |   Monday, 20 Apr 2015 05:00 PM

President Barack Obama's touting of the 1-7 cost-benefit ratio of his administration's 2013 pre-K proposal is a "stretch" at best and "lacks context," a fact-check by The Washington Post finds.

In a speech to working moms in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Obama claimed for "every dollar we put into high-quality early childhood education we get $7 back in reduced teen pregnancy, improved graduation rates, improved performance in school, reduced incarceration rates."

The president glossed over some glaring omissions.

"Obama did not attribute the $7 figure to any source during the town hall with working mothers, who would care a lot about this subject," the Post reports.

"He did not attribute it to studies, a range of estimates, or even his own Council of Economic Advisers. At the very least, he could have said this was a White House estimate. Instead, he flatly asserted it as a fact. To cite this 1-to-7 ratio as a definitive impact of the White House’s proposal on early education programs is a stretch, and lacks significant context."

Under the administration's pre-K plan, there'd be a federal-state partnership to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with high-quality pre-K, expanding the programs to reach additional children from middle-class families, the Post notes.

But none of the small studies that have found a $1-$7 ratio "fit directly" with the president's plan on a national scale, and those smaller programs laid out a bigger amount of money at the start, the Post adds.

"[D]ecades of research on small-scale programs" have seen long-term positive effects on children, but "some meta-analyses have shown that when applied on a larger scale, for universal pre-K programs for children from all income groups, the benefit-to-cost ratio decreases" to about 3-1 or 5-, the Post reports, citing the Society for Research in Child Development.

"I think people fixate on the number as if that’s the number, and people use it because it’s become familiar," Steven Barnett of the National Institute for Early Education Research told The Post. "But it is a number that is embedded in a very large confidence interval."

The Post reports though the 7-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio is used most closely with high-quality pre-K programs, "it is unclear whether that truly will apply to Obama’s pre-K proposal."

"The White House’s estimates largely are based in a study of a small-scale program on 123 students, so it is difficult to see how that translates directly to the president’s proposal," the Post reports.

It's not the first time the Post has slapped a "two Pinocchio" tag indicating "significant omissions and/or exaggerations" on a presidential claim for his pre-K proposal, the Post adds.

FactCheck.org reported he made a series of misleading claims based largely on one study.

And the Post reports its own 2013 fact-check found the president exaggerated the impact of pre-K education on children's math and reading scores, graduation rates, job prospects, and ultimate family stability.

"We called his claims 'a rhetorical leap of faith,'" the Post notes.

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President Barack Obama's touting of the 1-7 cost-benefit ratio of his administration's 2013 pre-K proposal is a "stretch" at best and "lacks context," a fact-check by The Washington Post finds.
pre-k proposal, barack obama, washington post, stretch, ratio
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2015-00-20
Monday, 20 Apr 2015 05:00 PM
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