Preliminary Report: Private Pre-K Outperforming Public in VT

April 23, 2019

by Rob Roper

The House and Senate Education Committees got a preview of a report from the Agency of Education on Vermont’s Pre-Kindergarten program, the final version of which will be due in July. While there was not a lot of detail at this point, two interesting bits popped out as worth watching. One was that, “Research has found no or a limited relationship between educators’ level of education and child outcomes.” The other was that the best results were coming from the private childcare centers, not the public school based programs.

Asked by a committee member about why private centers were doing a better job than their public school counterparts, the presenters squirmed mightily in their attempts to find an acceptable sugar-coating of political correctness to suit the lawmakers’ pallets. None dared state the obvious: that the private sector, directly accountable to the customer, is always more efficient and delivers better results than a bureaucracy that is ultimately accountable to the politicians who fund it, not the customer.

These two issues are also interesting in their interrelation. The presenters noted that the public school programs, more often than not, compensated their staff more in salary and benefits than the private providers were able to, and therefore there is a worry that the public school programs would attract the “most qualified” teachers. If the research bears out, this is apparently not an issue. And, if both points bear out, perhaps it is a benefit to the private providers!

Vermont has been expanding “high quality” (defined by teacher education levels), taxpayer funded Pre-K programs run through the public school system since 2007 because our politicians felt that better educated, better paid public school teachers would do a better job than their private sector peers. At least according to the initial research, that doesn’t appear to be the case. I am pleasantly not surprised.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dana Donaldson April 26, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Would you please explain the comment on the comment in the third paragraph that the public schools compensated their staff LESS MORE than private pre school programs. Is that a typo ? Doesn’t make sense.
Rob needs to check his grammar. The second to last sentence in the article does not have a noun.


Rob April 26, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Thanks for catching those typos and for letting me know!


jim April 27, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Rob, Regardless of typos, I get your message and quite frankly, I’m not the least bit surprised that private outperforms public. It’s been going on for years throughout the country. The greater question should be, WHY???? Keep up your good works.


Ray Thomas April 27, 2019 at 1:02 pm

Rob, sounds like Dana would fit right into one of the public sector jobs!😂. The information is not shocking by any stretch of the imagination. Keep up the good work and if you need any help with proofreading you can always call on Dana😂! We’ll have to see some of his work, he’s certainly anal and he might be to pedantic!


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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