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Everyone Loves the Idea of Preschool, So Why Don’t All Our Kids Get to Go to One?

Steven Barnett, the director of the National Institute of Early Education Research, argued in the Hechinger Report that the Tennessee study mostly provides additional evidence that preschool on the cheap doesn’t work. Perry and Abecedarian students had highly trained and well-paid teachers, and these programs cost about $14,000 to $20,000 per child in today’s dollars, compared with $4,611 that Tennessee spends currently. And unsurprisingly, the numbers and research bolster Barnett’s point: The strongest preschools have been well funded—some estimates vary between $8,000 and $10,000 per student. Barnett pointed to New Jersey, Boston, and Tulsa, Oklahoma—places that spend energy and money on highly trained teachers, coaching, and strong curriculum—as examples of where governments are serving children well.