But as Cato Institute director of education and child policy Darcy Ann Olsen pointed out in Human Events (9-01-00), even Edward Zigler, one of the founders of Head Start and a longtime academic advocate of preschool programs, stated in 1987 (during the late 1980s push for federal babysitting): "This is not the first time universal preschool education has been proposed . . . The arguments in favor of preschool were that it would reduce school failure, lower dropout rates, increase test scores, and produce a generation of more competent high school graduates. . . Preschool education will achieve none of these results."
Olsen points to the irony of the crusade for mandatory public preschool while Americans' confidence in public schools steadily declines, from 58% expressing "a great deal" of confidence in public schools in 1973 to 49% with the same level of confidence in 1988 to 36% in 1999, according to Gallup surveys. Olsen reports that the non-partisan organization Public Agenda recently found that, "while 68% of self-identified 'children's advocates' say government policy should move toward a universal, national child-care system, only 27% of parents share that vision."