Beware the legislative-educational complex

Instapundit links to an article about a large, long-term study showing that the effects of free pre-kindergarten for low-income children are mildly negative for educational accomplishment over time.  It sounds as though the study was thoroughly and properly done, which makes it of even greater-than-usual concern that the study’s authors had a terrible time getting their findings published.  They wrote,

“It is, of course, understandable that people are skeptical of results that do not confirm the prevailing wisdom, but the vitriol with which our work has been greeted is beyond mere scientific concern.  Social science research can only be helpful to policy makers if it presents findings openly and objectively, even when unwelcome.”

In other words, in a world of limited resources, it is vital for policymakers to avoid what does not work, lest the result be no time, money, energy or political capital left for what might.  Seems like a perfectly reasonable point, right?

But there’s no talking to the academics who freak out about this sort of thing.  Getting away from the inconvenience of practicality in their job results was why they fled into their ivory towers to begin with.  Permitting this sort of thing threatens their ability to preen themselves on their morality, and it threatens the real value of their service to the educational-legislative complex: to provide full employment for teachers, whose unions will then send the extra money they get from the public to the Democratic Party.