Sarah Gonzalez, Sarah, Christopher Walters discussed on The Takeaway


At the Brookings Institution. Shipley. Thank you so much for joining us my pleasure. I'm Sarah Gonzalez in for 10, Xena Vega and you're listening to the takeaway. President Biden has proposed the American families plan and as part of the plan, he is proposing $200 billion for free, Universal preschool. If past, experts say the package, which would also set aside $225 billion to make child care more affordable, would represent the largest ever American investment in child care and early education and to help us understand the long term effects of preschool. We can look to Boston back in the late nineties. Boston offered preschool to some of its Children through a lottery. And this week, researchers released a study looking at the long term effects of preschool education on those Children. Here to help us understand what they found is one of the authors of the study. I'm joined by Christopher Walters, associate professor of economics at UC Berkeley and affiliated with the Mighty School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative. Christopher Thank you so much for being here. Hi, Sarah. Thanks so much for having me. So let's start first, with just what happened in Boston in the late 19 nineties with preschool who was involved in this what happened? Sure So, like a lot of states and localities in the U. S. Boston has a public preschool program for three and four year olds and its program. Actually, Coast goes back quite a long time. Like you said, back to the late 19 nineties. And as you alluded to a kind of interesting institutional feature of the way public preschool in Boston works is that assignment to the program actually happens partially by lottery. So parents who want their kids to attend preschool will submit their preferences over which programs they want to attend. They have some priorities based on like where they live, whether they have a sibling enrolled. And then within those groups because there aren't enough seats for all the kids that want to attend the district actually breaks ties by random lottery to decide who gets a slot. So we as researchers, we can use that to understand the impacts of the program by comparing the kids who randomly win and lose those lotteries to get seats. So researchers like yourself thought, well, this is a good opportunity to follow these Children and do a really long study. We'll get into some of the findings some of your findings in a bit, But first, can you just give us a sense? What? What did past studies on the benefits of preschool show US? Yes. So we actually have a lot of pretty encouraging evidence on the impacts of preschool from a couple of different kinds of studies. One set of studies are randomized studies kind of like what we're doing in Boston in the past, typically conducted on pretty small scales. A famous example of that is the Perry Preschool project. In the 19 sixties, which randomized a very small number of kids to an intensive, high quality preschool program, and researchers there found very large positive impacts on all kinds of outcomes. Over kids entire lives from attending preschool. And then we have studies of some bigger programs like head Start that typically come from non experimental research strategies. So comparisons of kids that attend head start to those who don't And those also tend to find positive effects. But with that, with that type of research design, your voice a bit worried, you know. Is there something else that's different between the head Start kids and the non head start kids, So our study is kind of bridging that gap. We have both a pretty big program. In Boston serving a lot of kids and also this randomized design kind of a natural experiment that comes from the assignment process that lets us get a clean estimate of what the program actually did.

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