Let's review what I said back in December, shall we?
Rob Reiner, who is still a meathead after all these years, wants to tax rich people to pay for universal pre-school here in California. Think the CTA will have anything to say about this? Think they'll want credentialed teachers to run these preschools? Think these teachers will be compelled to cough up CTA dues?
Well, well, well. Today I received my California Educator magazine--apparently CTA hasn't yet figured out I'm no longer a union member and hence not entitled to their rag--and what's the topic of the issue? Three guesses, and the first two don't count! Cover story: Early Childhood Education, This Is Serious Business. Page 10 starts an article on Meathead's specific initiative. Oh, look what I read on page 12! "Other teachers expressed support for requiring credentials for preschool teachers...." If only I could read the stock market as easily as I can predict the CTA's take on things.
But wait, you touchy-feely libs will say. What's wrong with universal preschool? Probably nothing, but what is wrong here is the way it's funded--and the cost/benefit analysis is heavily weighted to the cost side.
Let's repeat what I previously quoted from Joanne Jacobs' blog:
Universal preschool would cost Californians $23 billion over the next 10 years, if Rob Reiner's Proposition 82 passes. But it won't close the learning gap for poor kids, warns Bruce Fuller, a Berkeley education and public policy professor. Currently, 64 percent of four-year-olds go to preschool; Reiner's plan would boost that only to 70 percent. Instead of directing public money at needy families, most of the dollars would go to provide free preschool to middle-class and wealthy parents. Any gains by poor children are likely to be lost when they enter substandard schools.
Now let's see what the Chron says:
If Reiner's initiative is approved in June, individuals making more than $400,000 a year ($800,000 for families) will face a 1.7 percent tax increase to raise $2.5 billion to finance three hours of free preschool a day for all of California's 4-year-olds -- even the 62 percent who already attend preschool without universal subsidies.
Again, let me remind you that this is the San Francisco Freakin' Chronicle saying these things.
Will California's program enhance school readiness of children in its care and improve educational outcomes, one of the main arguments of child care advocates? Not if Quebec's experience is any indication.
Pierre Lefebvre, an economics professor at Universite du Quebec, has just completed a study comparing 4- to 5-year-olds in Quebec with kids elsewhere in Canada and found that Quebec kids have no better scores on the Peabody vocabulary test -- the most widely used indicator of school readiness...
Universal preschool sounds progressive, but actually has pernicious unintended consequences for the parents and children it seeks to help.
Today's major Sacramento newspaper has an interesting story on this subject as well.
Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, one of the state's leading Democrats, said Tuesday he is reconsidering his support for a June universal preschool ballot proposal in another blow to Rob Reiner's initiative campaign.
The June initiative, Proposition 82, would increase income taxes on the state's wealthiest earners to raise $2.4 billion to pay for preschool for any family that wants it.Perata, an Oakland Democrat, said he is concerned that the initiative lacks a "means test" and therefore would mostly benefit middle- and upper-middle class families in California. He also said there is no mandate for superintendents to use anything other than school districts, so community-based organizations serving ethnic communities may lose out.
What is it Archie said about Meathead? "Dead, from the neck up!"
Toss in Reiner's conflict of interest and potential legal trouble on this topic and you have an initiative that should be dead on arrival. Why is it still even in play?
Because too many people will think with their hearts and not their heads, just like they did on the stem cell initiative.
Update, 3/3/06: Joanne has more here.
Update #2, 3/5/06: Another informative essay here.