Tag Archives: Marriage

New study: Tennessee pre-K program provides no educational benefit over control group

This is the most thorough study that I have ever seen evaluating the effectiveness of pre-K programs. The study was done by researchers at Vanderbilt University. (H/T Brad Wilcox tweet)

The study was reported on by the well-respected but leftist Brookings Institute.

They write:

State investments in center-based school readiness programs for preschoolers (pre-K), whether targeted for poor children or universally implemented, have expanded more rapidly than evaluations of their effects. Given the current interest and continuing expansion of state funded pre-K, it is especially important to be clear about the nature of the available evidence for the effectiveness of such programs. Despite widespread claims about proven benefits from pre-K, there is actually strikingly little credible research about the effectiveness of public pre-K programs scaled for statewide implementation.

Like many states that became interested in scaling up a state funded pre-K program in the early 2000’s, voluntary pre-K (TNVPK) was introduced in Tennessee in 1996 as a way to provide academic enhancement to economically disadvantaged children. It expanded in 2005 to an $85 million-plus statewide investment serving 18,000 Tennessee income-eligible children in 935 classrooms across all 95 counties.

Launched in 2009, the TNVPK Effectiveness Study, a coordinated effort between Vanderbilt’s Peabody Research Institute and the Tennessee Department of Education, is a five-year evaluation study funded by the US Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences. It includes the first randomized control trial of a scaled up state funded pre-K program and the first well-controlled comparison group study of the effects of program participation as children progress through elementary school..

Policymakers and proponents often cite some of the famous early studies of pre-K programs that have shown long term benefits extending into adulthood for the participating children. But those were studies of especially complex programs that are unlike scaled-up public pre-K in many ways. The Vanderbilt study is the first rigorous controlled longitudinal study to be conducted on a large-scale state-funded pre-K program.

And here is a summary of the results:

Standard score results from pre-K through 3rd grade on a composite measure that averaged the six achievement subtests are presented from baseline forward in the graph below.

As is evident, pre-K and control children started the pre-K year at virtually identical levels. The TNVPK children were substantially ahead of the control group children at the end of the pre-K year (age 5 in the graph). By the end of kindergarten (age 6 in the graph), the control children had caught up to the TNVPK children, and there were no longer significant differences between them on any achievement measures. The same result was obtained at the end of first grade using two composite achievement measures (the second created with the addition of two more WJIII subtests appropriate for the later grades). In second grade, however, the groups began to diverge with the TNVPK children scoring lower than the control children on most of the measures. The differences were significant on both achievement composite measures and on the math subtests. Differences favoring the control persisted through the end of third grade.

In terms of behavioral effects, in the spring the first grade teachers reversed the fall kindergarten teacher ratings. First grade teachers rated the TNVPK children as less well prepared for school, having poorer work skills in the classrooms, and feeling more negative about school. It is notable that these ratings preceded the downward achievement trend we found for VPK children in second and third grades. The second and third grade teachers rated the behaviors and feelings of children in the two groups as the same; there was a small positive finding for peer relations favoring the TNVPK children by third grade teachers, which did not meet traditional levels of statistical significance.

Results graph:

TNVPK data: pre-K program is in red, baseline is in blue
TNVPK data: pre-K program is in red, baseline is in blue

We are already seeing that cheap daycare in high-tax, big government provinces like Quebec cost a lot, and produce negative results. And of course Hillary Clinton is a longstanding advocate of universal pre-K. As a Senator of New York, she introduced a universal pre-K plan that would cost $10 billion over 5 years. President Barack Obama’s own Preschool for All plan would cost $75 billion over 10 years. This Vanderbilt study should cause us to question whether the policies of the secular left, pushed largely because of emotions and ideology, are worth the tens of billions of dollars they want to take from us. And if you take tens of billions of dollars out of families, then families on the margin will have to give their children to the state to raise. And that includes Christian families, who would no longer be able to afford a stay-at-home mother.

Now, taking children away from parents so that their mothers can work is seen as a worthy goal by those on the secular left. First, communally raising the children is “good” because it removes inequalities between single mothers and traditional working-husband homes. Second, making it easier for women to “go fatherless” is “good” because fathers are not to be trusted to teach their children about morality and religion. That is best left to secular government workers. Third, mothers who choose to marry good providers pay less in taxes if they choose to stay home with their kids and not work. That is “bad” because the government wants more taxes, so they can spend it on vote-buying social programs. Fourth, children who form stable bonds with their parents are less likely to become dependent on the government, meaning their allegiance cannot be bought with government handouts. That is also “bad”. Fifth, it is also “bad” that children who grow up with stay-at-home mothers are more likely to develop empathy and morality, which gives them an independent standard by which to judge the government’s actions.

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Does gay marriage undermine the marital norms of monogamy and permanence?

Does government provide incentives for people to get married?
Does gay marriage undermine marital norms?

Let’s see how gay marriage has changed the norms of natural marriage, using an interesting article by Ryan T. Anderson appeared on Ricochet.

First, a bit about the author.

Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education as the William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at The Heritage Foundation. He also has expertise in bioethics, marriage, religious liberty and natural law theory.

Anderson, who joined Heritage’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2012, also is the editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J.

Anderson’s recent work focuses on the moral and constitutional questions surrounding same-sex “marriage.” He is the co-author with Princeton’s Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, December 2012). The three also co-wrote the article “What is Marriage?” in the winter 2011 issue of Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy.

[…]Anderson received his bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University, graduatingPhi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude. He is a doctoral candidate in political philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, where he received his master’s degree.

The point I wanted to pull out his piece on Ricochet was that gay activists admit that one of the motives for redefining marriage is to destroy central aspects of traditional marriage, such as monogamy, sexual exclusivity and pledged permanence.

He writes:

Redefining marriage would abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity as an essential characteristic of marriage. Making that optional would also make other essential characteristics—like monogamy, exclusivity and permanency—optional, as my co-authors and I argue in our new book, What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense. We also show how it is increasingly confirmed by the rhetoric and arguments of those who would redefine marriage (“revisionists”) and by the policies that their more candid leaders increasingly embrace. Indeed, several commentators on Tuesday’s post explicitly jettisoned monogamy, sexual exclusivity and pledged permanence as demands of marriage.

Consider the norm of monogamy. In testifying before Congress against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), prominent New York University professor Judith Stacey expressed hope that the revisionist view’s triumph would give marriage “varied, creative and adaptive contours . . . [leading some to] question the dyadic limitations of Western marriage and seek . . . small group marriages.”

In their statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage,” more than 300  self-styled LGBT and allied scholars and advocates—including prominent Ivy League professors—call for legally recognizing sexual relationships involving more than two partners. University of Calgary professor Elizabeth Brake argues in her book Minimizing Marriage that justice requires using legal recognition to “denormalize the ideal of heterosexual monogamy” and correct for “past discrimination against homosexuals, bisexuals, polygamists and care networks.”

And exclusivity? Andrew Sullivan, who has extolled the “spirituality” of “anonymous sex,” writes in his book Virtually Normal that the “openness” of same-sex relationships could enhance the bonds of husbands and wives:

Same-sex unions often incorporate the virtues of friendship more effectively than traditional marriages; and at times, among gay male relationships, the openness of the contract makes it more likely to survive than many heterosexual bonds. . . . [T]here is more likely to be greater understanding of the need for extramarital outlets between two men than between a man and a woman. . . . [S]omething of the gay relationship’s necessary honesty, its flexibility, and its equality could undoubtedly help strengthen and inform many heterosexual bonds.

Similarly, in a New York Times Magazine profile titled “Married, With Infidelities”, Dan Savage encourages spouses to adopt “a more flexible attitude” about allowing each other to seek sex outside their marriage. A piece titled “Monogamish” in The Advocate, a gay-interest newsmagazine, supports this point still more candidly:

Anti-equality right-wingers have long insisted that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of “traditional marriage,” and, of course, the logical, liberal party-line response has long been “No, it won’t.” But what if—for once—the sanctimonious crazies are right? Could the gay male tradition of open relationships actually alter marriage as we know it? And would that be such a bad thing?

As the article’s blurb reads: “We often protest when homophobes insist that same-sex marriage will change marriage for straight people too. But in some ways, they’re right.”

These are the words of leading supporters of same-sex marriage. If you believe in monogamy and exclusivity—and the benefits these bring to orderly procreation and child wellbeing—but would redefine civil marriage, take note.

So the question becomes, does it weaken marriage to introduce these ideas of non-monogamy and non-permanence, and call them “marriage”? The secular left already champions policies like no-fault divorce, single mother welfare, premarital sex, etc. that undermine marital stability. As a result of the ascendancy of the secular left and their Sexual Revolution (not pushed by Christians!), we have a 40% out-of-wedlock birth rate, and much higher in minority communities. And now we see that same-sex marriage, which is endorsed by the secular left, undermines traditional marriage norms even more, exposing children to even more harm.

No-fault divorce was the first redefinition of marriage. The secular left advocated for it, whether they actually did it themselves or not. It definitely harmed children. Sometimes, a person can do harm by advocating for views that cause harm, even if they don’t directly do the harm themselves. In that case, pointing to their own moral goodness does not take away the fact that they are pushing a moral order that is opposed to God’s intended moral design for us.

Implications of the Supreme Court’s “Obergefell v. Hodges” decision

Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign
Gay activist vandalizes pro-marriage sign

I am linking to an article posted at the Stream about an important new book by marriage defender Ryan T. Anderson, entitled “Truth Overruled”. I have already bought myself a paperback copy of it.

Anyway, here’s the excerpt:

Anderson lays out soberly all the radical, counter-intuitive and just-plain-crazy implications of the Supreme Court decision in June, Obergefell v. Hodges, that overturned all state laws predicated on the natural, timeless structure of marriage as one man and one woman, hopefully till death:

  • Marriage is not about protecting children and helping to form future free citizens. It exists to cater to the fleeting emotional needs of adults.
  • The state recognizes marriages in order to validate the “dignity” of citizens — that is, to boost their self-esteem.
  • Men and women are exactly the same, and therefore completely interchangeable as parents.
  • Children do not need or deserve continuity of care from their biological parents. Any adult present will do.
  • The U.S. Constitution has no permanent, substantive meaning. It is instead a means by which social and legal elites can override democratic majorities whenever they feel that the time is ripe to impose new philosophical premises on the populace.
  • The free exercise of religion is no more extensive than simple free speech, and can be restricted when a religious group’s views diverge from the Court’s majority view of what the Constitution means at the moment.
  • The connection between sexual activity and human reproduction is simply accidental, a quirk of biology that has no implications for morality, law or society.
  • Those who deny any of these points are morally equivalent to white racists, and will be treated by the government with no greater deference.

Anderson is not alone in recognizing the sheer radicalism of Obergefell v. Hodges; indeed, four justices of the Court, including its Chief Justice, John Roberts, issued a stinging dissent that raises most of the objections which Anderson coolly unpacks in the course of his book. Advocates of same-sex marriage were quick to brush such arguments aside, and cast their opponents as isolated, irrational extremists, motivated only by fideistic reliance on ancient religious texts. Anderson makes it clear that this tactic is fundamentally dishonest, expanding on the dissenters’ points and fleshing each of them out with reference to history, biology, social science — and yes, even religion.

Anderson rightly avoids the temptation to simply play whack-a-mole with every specious argument offered by those who claim to advocate “marriage equality.” While he answers such objections, he also does the reader the service of clarifying and simplifying the terms of the debate, showing how it is finally, starkly, the face-off between two irreconcilable views of marriage:

  1. A “comprehensive — permanent and exclusive — union of sexually complementary spouses who engage in a comprehensive act that is inherently ordered toward a comprehensive good: the procreation and rearing of new human life.”
  2. An “intense emotional union — a romantic, care-giving union of consenting adults.”

As Anderson demonstrates, the first view is the one that has existed in every human society of which we have any record, even those that tolerated polygamy and extra-marital homosexual relationships. The second, impoverished view is the program of the Sexual Revolution, whose gradual implementation (beginning with no-fault, unilateral divorce) has seen the virtual collapse of marriage, the enormous suffering of children, the disappearance of two-parent families in large swathes of society — in other words, domestic chaos.

Anderson cites solid, peer-reviewed research to show the grave harm this social change has done to the most vulnerable people in America: the children of the poor. Our prisons are disproportionately full of boys who grew up without fathers, and our welfare rolls of young girls who were sexually exploited and made pregnant as young teenagers, in part because they had no father to protect them. They in turn are likely to raise children without their biological fathers. This cycle of dysfunction can all be traced to the loosening of the marriage bond, which is only further weakened when the law itself — and even the U.S. Constitution — is invoked by our nation’s highest authorities to affirm that sex has no permanent unitive meaning, and that children’s interests must play second fiddle to the emotional needs of adults.

You might think that same-sex “marriage” could improve the well-being of children, but Anderson cites statistics showing a clear correlation between its legal adoption in particular polities, and declines in the marriage and even the birth rate.

No man is an island, and no woman neither. But least of all are children, those fragile and needy creatures who depend on us for their present, who will populate our future. The acceptance of same-sex marriage, as Anderson doggedly demonstrates, is only the latest stage in our culture’s narcissistic rejection of responsibility toward the vulnerable.

Federal enforcement of a new, invented Constitutional “right” poses a threat to religious liberty and freedom of association. Anderson lays out the well-known (and some of the lesser-known) cases of same-sex marriage advocates using the state’s coercive power to harm innocent citizens who were acting on their conscience, who declined to assist with same-sex marriages. He correctly notes the grave danger posed to churches, citing the now-infamous exchange between Obama’s solicitor general and Justice Samuel Alito, in which the former admitted that churches who decline to perform same-sex marriages may well face the same legal and tax penalties applied in the past to segregationist sects.

This little excerpt is a very good summary of the issues, and how marriage fits into the overall fight to defend the rights of children to their moms and dads, and a stable childhood where both parents sacrifice themselves for the good of their children. We need to get that culture back. If you are pro-same-sex marriage, then you are part of the problem. It doesn’t matter what you do in your personal life. If you are voting for this, you are harming society, and harming children, all for the self-esteem of self-centered grown ups. I urge all my readers to get informed about marriage and to be persuasive when talking about marriage to their neighbors.

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Five liberal Democrat policies that hurt minorities

Marriage and Poverty
Marriage and Poverty

The five policies are:

  • higher minimum wage rates
  • opposition to school voucher programs
  • releasing criminals from jail
  • affirmative action
  • single mother welfare

This article is by Jason L. Riley, and it appeared in the Wall Street Journal.


At the urging of labor unions, President Obama has pushed for higher minimum wages that price a disproportionate percentage of blacks out of the labor force. At the urging of teachers unions, he has fought voucher programs that give ghetto children access to better schools.

Both policies have a lengthy track record of keeping millions of blacks ill-educated and unemployed. Since the 1970s, when the federal government began tracking the racial achievement gap, black test scores in math, reading and science have on average trailed far behind those of their white classmates. And minimum-wage mandates have been so effective for so long at keeping blacks out of work that 1930, the last year in which there was no federal minimum-wage law, was also the last year that the black unemployment rate was lower than the white rate. For the past half-century, black joblessness on average has been double that of whites.

Last week the Justice Department said it would release some 6,000 inmates from federal prison starting later this month. The goal, according to the White House, is to ease overcrowding and roll back tough sentencing rules implemented in the 1980s and ’90s.

But why are the administration’s sympathies with the lawbreakers instead of their usual victims—the mostly law-abiding residents in low-income communities where many of these inmates eventually are headed? In dozens of large U.S. cities, violent crime, including murder, has climbed over the past year, and it is hard to see how these changes are in the interest of public safety.

The administration assures skeptics that only “nonviolent” drug offenders will be released, but who pays the price if we guess wrong, as officials have so often done in the past?

When Los Angeles asked the Rand Corp. in the 1990s to identify inmates suitable for early release, the researchers concluded that “almost no one housed in the Los Angeles jails could be considered non-serious or simply troublesome to their local communities” and that “jail capacity should be expanded so as to allow lengthier incarceration of the more dangerous.”

A 2002 federal report tracked the recidivism rate of some 91,000 supposedly nonviolent offenders in 15 states over a three-year period. More than 21% wound up rearrested for violent crimes, including more than 700 murders and more than 600 rapes. The report also noted the difficulty of identifying low-risk inmates. Auto thieves were rearrested for committing more than a third of the homicides and a disproportionate share of other violent offenses.

Keep in mind that when criminals are release, they don’t go move into wealthy progressive neighborhoods. It’s not the wealthy leftists elites who have to deal with the released inmates. It’s the poor, low-income minority neighborhoods that have to deal with them.

By the way, I covered the minimum wage argument here, and I covered the school choice argument here.

That covers the first 3 policies. This article from The College Fix covers the fourth policy, affirmative action.

It says:

A UCLA law professor critiques affirmative action as detrimental to the very people it strives to aid: minority students.

Professor Richard Sander, though liberal-leaning, has deemed affirmative action practices as harmful, a notion that contradicts a liberal view in college admissions, said Stuart Taylor, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

[…]Sander began teaching law at UCLA in 1989. After a few years he garnered an interest in academic support and asked permission to analyze which strategies most effectively assist struggling students.

After reviewing statistics on performance, especially those of students with lower academic merit, he noticed correlations between race and academic success.

“I was struck by both the degree to which it correlated with having weak academic entering credentials and its correlation with race,” Sander said in a recent interview with The College Fix. “And as I looked into our admissions process I realized that we were giving really a large admissions preference.”

Sander noticed that students admitted into the law school with lower academic credentials than their peers had significantly lower percentages of passing the Multistate Bar Examination, Sander said. This especially pertained to minority students who were given special consideration in the admittance process due to their race rather than their academic preparedness.

He then began thinking about whether or not these students would have better chances of succeeding if they went to a less elite university, he said.

He called this discrepancy a mismatch; when minority students with lower credentials than their peers are accepted into more challenging universities and then suffer academically as a result.

And the fifth policy is welfare. Welfare encourages women to not marry the men that they have sex with, since they will lose their single mother benefits if they do. Children who are raised fatherless are more likely to struggle in a number of areas, and they are especially likely to be poor. What we should be doing (if we really want to help the poor) is paying people to get married and stay married. But Democrats are opposed to that. The connection between welfare, fatherlessness, poverty and crime is explained in a previous post.

Study: remaining a virgin longer leads to more satisfying relationships

Boys and girls playing the famous co-operative board game
Boys and girls playing the famous co-operative board game “Pandemic”

OK, so this week I got to be a facilitator between a man and a woman in a relationship. I got to hear a bit about what they thought was appropriate in the area of physical touching. These two had made great decisions, and it protected them both. Anyway, thinking about them caused me to think about the studies I had posted about boundaries in sexual matters a few years back. So I’m going to re-post them to remind everyone not to be in a rush to say yes to premarital sex.

The first article from the UK Daily Mail is about study showing the benefits of abstinence for relationship quality.


People who lose their virginity later than their teenage years are more likely to enjoy satisfying relationships later in life, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who didn’t have sex until they turned 20 or even later are more likely to end up in a happy relationship.

[…]Previous research suggests that there may be cause for concern, as timing of sexual development can have significant immediate consequences for adolescents’ physical and mental health.

However, until now little had been done to study long-term outcomes, and how early sexual initiation might affect romantic relationships in adulthood.

Psychological scientist Paige Harden, of the University of Texas in the United States, set about changing this.

She wanted to investigate whether the timing of sexual initiation in adolescence might predict romantic outcomes – such as whether people get married or live with their partners, how many romantic partners they’ve had, and whether they’re satisfied with their relationship – later in adulthood.

Doctor Harden used data from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health to look at 1,659 same-sex sibling pairs who were followed from around the age of 16 to about the age of 29.

Each sibling was classified as having an ‘early’ (younger than 15), ‘on-time’ (age 15 to 19), or ‘late’ (older than 19) first experience with sexual intercourse.

Those who lost their virginity later on in life were more likely to have a well-paid job.

They found, as expected, later timing of first sexual experience was associated with higher educational attainment and higher household income in adulthood when compared with the early and on-time groups.

People who had a later first sexual experience were also less likely to be married and they had fewer romantic partners in adulthood.

Among the participants who were married or living with a partner, later sexual initiation was linked with significantly lower levels of relationship dissatisfaction in adulthood.

This sounds a lot like the results from the previous studies that were featured in this UK Daily Mail article.


“Courtship is a time for exploration and decision-making about the relationship, when partners assess compatibility, make commitments and build on emotional and physical intimacy.”

“The rapid entry into sexual relationships may, however, cut short this process, setting the stage for “sliding” rather than “deciding” to enter co-habiting unions.”

“Around a third of the men and women said they’d had sex within the first month of dating, while about 28 per cent waited at least six months, the Journal of Marriage and Family reported.”

“Analysis of the data clearly showed the women who had waited to have sex to be happier. And those who waited at least six months scored more highly in every category measured than those who got intimate within the first month. Even their sex lives were better.”

“The link was weaker for men. However, those who waited to get physically involved had fewer rows.

[…]‘A strong sexual desire may thwart the development of other key ingredients of a healthy relationship such as commitment, mutual understanding or shared values,’ the report said. ‘Good sex is sometimes confused with love; some couples overlook problematic aspects of their relationship that ultimately matter more in the long run.’”

So, it looks like you lose some stability if you push too hard on the premarital sex. Is stability important to you? Well, divorce is a financial disaster for men and women – so that’s one reason to care about stability. If your plan for marriage is to provide a stable environment for your kids, then that’s another good reason to care about stability. If you are getting married in part to advance your cause through effective children, then you have to control yourself now in order to be the person who can give them what they need later. This is not out of your control, this is not unpredictable. There are best practices.

If you keep rushing into things and experiencing painful break-ups, you will naturally stop the behaviors that allow you commit out of self-preservation. You will begin to resent having to care for that other person, except maybe when it makes you feel good. When you invest a lot and break up, you become less willing to invest in that other person. You retreat into your shell. You resent having responsibilities and obligations to that other person. You expect things to work on their own, apart from your efforts to make them work, because that’s how you avoid getting hurt. You try not to invest too much, because you imagine that things will fall apart and you’ll get hurt again. You focus on just feeling good now, so that when the relationship fails, you come out “ahead”. But this is not the way to make a stable marriage.

Marriage requires you to give 100% and regardless of how you feel. That’s what a commitment is – it’s a decision to perform regardless of feelings. To get stability, you want to be comfortable with investing in that other person – taking on responsibilities, satisfying expectations, performing obligations. Both of you have to be comfortable with the selflessness of commitment, and be ruled by your own decisions, instead of your feelings. And your goal here is not to find someone who gives you good feelings right now. Your goal is to find someone who will not hurt you the more that you give of yourself, up to an including marriage. It’s not good feelings that you are looking for, it’s the safety to commit everything you have to this other person, and not get hurt. The real joy of a relationship is not fun and thrills, it’s giving everything you have to another person, and knowing that if you fall, they will catch you.

If you choose candidates carefully, involve wise mentors, and set proper boundaries, you’ll find that relationships are a lot less painful, and that when you really want to commit, then you will be able to commit with your whole heart, and to be content with the commitment. There are plenty of ways to love and serve another person other than sex, as you both get to know each other and size each other up for a life-long commitment. Premarital sex is counterproductive… it’s speaking in a language that is designed for two people who have already made a lifelong commitment to have a common plan and a common purpose. Sex makes sense when you have that commitment, but it undermines communication and objective evaluation if it’s done before that commitment commitment is in place.