In non-health care domestic policy news, today the House is going to be moving forward on the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, SAFRA, which is aimed primarily at eliminating the waste involved in federal funding of the for-profit student loan agency. The money saved by just doing the lending directly can then be plowed into other worthy endeavors, like more Pell Grants:
The bill also has an important early education component despite being primarily a higher education issue. Basically, a chunk of the money is going to finance challenge grants to states to work on improving quality in early education programs. There’s a considerably body of research indicating that high-quality preschool can do wonders for kids’ performance down the road. But that research has spurred a lot of expansion of early education programs that don’t necessarily keep their eyes on the quality ball. Cutting corners can save money and/or political headaches, but it’s a major case of penny wise point foolish. A preschool program that works is worth investing a lot of money in, but a preschool program that doesn’t work is useless. The idea here is that by giving states an incentive to refocus on quality issues, they can spur the reallocation of money in more useful ways.