Friday, March 14, 2014

In search of preschool critics

In my inaugural post for The Agenda, National Review's domestic policy blog, I praised Russ Whitehurst's technically sophisticated review of preschool studies. If only there were more examples of such skepticism about preschool! I discussed how a false "consensus" can develop around such issues:
When academics cloister themselves within a specialty or sub-specialty that interests them, “groupthink” sometimes emerges. In the case of preschool, the field attracts those who are inclined to support some form of early education, while those who are skeptical tend to focus on other topics. The result is a false consensus that only Whitehurst and a handful of others have been working to dispel.
As if to prove my point about the lack of dedicated preschool skeptics, education reporter Lillian Mongeau tweeted this reaction to my piece:

I don't want to overstate the problem. There are preschool critics other than Whitehurst who have written some great pieces, and reporters need to broaden their search for different perspectives. Nevertheless, self-selection into the early education field tends to leave the skeptics outnumbered.

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