Wednesday, June 07, 2006

California Voters Soundly Reject Universal Preschool

As Kaine attempts to drum up support in Virginia for his first step in bringing Universal Preschool to our schools, voters in the liberal state of California soundly rejected a ballot measure establishing Universal Preschool in their state.

From the Sacremento Bee, "Preschool, library measures falter":

But opponents contended the initiative would create an expensive new education bureaucracy that would mostly benefit families that could already afford private preschools.

"The idea was warm and fuzzy -- everybody wants preschool for children," Amanda Riccetti, a San Francisco Montessori preschool provider and spokeswoman for the now 82 campaign, said as returns showed the initiative losing Tuesday night. "But the reality of Prop 82 is that it wasn't going to target those that it needed to target. And $2.4 billion for a new preschool bureaucracy was too much money for too little."

I addressed Kaine's plan in a column last year titled Universal preschool will come at the expense of private schools and daycare, in which I cited similar concerns:

For example, Tim Kaine (Democrat candidate for governor) supports spending $300 million a year for universal preschool for 4-year-olds. This is a good sound bite - more education for our kids, who can be against it? But this is a bad idea. It will waste money that, if available, can be better used for other education needs. It will harm religious preschools and private daycare centers, and lead to a government takeover of the preschool industry, restricting parental choice. And it will do nothing to improve educational outcomes.
Universal preschool not only spends money for children who will gain nothing, it gives tax dollars to parents who already pay for preschool or daycare. And businesses love it, because they don't have to provide daycare solutions for their employees.

We should reject the siren song of universal preschool in favor of refocusing existing programs that target those who truly need help.

I also included a good deal of commentary about how Universal Preschool will largely destroy religious preschools, just as universal public education has marginalized religious education. I note that while Kaine's proposal called for partnerships, it was certain that, once public schools had preschool programs up and running, the same people who oppose vouchers would call for cutting off funding for all religious preschool programs.

I had hoped, of course, that Kaine would lose and we wouldn't have to worry about this again. But he won, and unlike his promise not to propose tax increases, or his promise to back proposals to give local governments tools to stop development, OR his promise to support the marriage amendment, it looks like this bad promise is one he would at least like to keep.

Frankly, most kids don't need preschool. What they need is to be allowed to be kids, to spend time with their parents. We don't need new excuses to give the state control over children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pre-school-pre-school is nothing more than taxpayer funding baby sitters.