Democratic Rep. Brittany Pettersen

Democratic Rep. Brittany Pettersen

At a cost of more than $11 million per year, Democrats in the Colorado House of Representatives want to increase the number of preschoolers enrolled in government schools. Free preschool? Who doesn’t love that?  It turns out the devil is in the details.

HB 1024, introduced by House District 28 Representative and community organizer Brittany Pettersen, would increase funding to the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP) by more than $11 million in order to add slots for 3,000 preschoolers to attend public schools in Colorado, on top of the 28,360 who are already in taxpayer-funded preschools.

While this measure may feel good at first, studies have shown that sending children to government-funded preschool does not have a meaningful impact on student performance.  For example, Georgia and Oklahoma have had more than a decade of public preschool for four year olds. Over the years, neither state has noticed significant improvement in performance, despite tens of millions of dollars spent on universal preschool.

It should also be noted that approximately 80 percent of children enrolled in preschool attend private daycare centers, and an overall expansion of programs such as CPP could eventually drive those private businesses out of business.  Let’s be honest, expansion of government-run preschool is really just a substitute for childcare.

While it may sound nice at first to expand the taxpayer funded preschool roles beyond the tens of thousands who already participate, do Coloradans need to pay $11 million for a program that doesn’t work?