In his State of the Union speech President Obama pushed an idea popular among Democrats for all children, starting at age four, to attend preschool.

It doesn’t appeal to conservatives for multiple reasons, including costs and suspicion of another government program. But it’s rare to find a mainstream media outlet critical of the proposal. The New York Times, for example, said “expanding preschool education would seem to be an obvious bipartisan goal.”

USA Today joins the right (though the editorial board probably wouldn’t say that outright):

A few small, high-quality programs have shown enduring benefits for at-risk kids. But intensive study of Head Start, the nation’s largest and oldest preschool program, finds that the beneficial effects, which are real, wear off by third grade.

The probable reason is not hard to deduce. Children are most likely to succeed in school when pushed by parents who provide stability, help with schooling, and instill an education and work ethic. But for decades now, the American family has been breaking down. …

So, sure, explore Obama’s plan to expand quality preschool, and make sure kids aren’t then dumped into failing elementary schools. But don’t miss the core problem. The primary engine of social advancement has always been the family, and it is breaking down.