November 16, 2005

Fre-School For All

Hatched by Dafydd

The elfin Daniel Weintraub reports that Rob "Meathead" Reiner has paid for enough goons to gather a million signatures for his socialist initiative to give "free" pre-school to all children in California -- subsidized by "the rich," of course; Weintraub avoided using those prolix and tendentious adjectives, however, so you may find the Big Lizards take more exciting.

Every four-year-old child will receive "free" pre-school, paid for by a special tax on individuals earning $400,000 or couples earning twice that. If this succeeds, I'm sure Reiner will next move an initiative to give every child breakfast and lunch, new, fashionable clothing, a G4 Power Mac, and in high school, a brand new car (hybrid, naturally).

Presumably, children who don't actually need pre-school because they can already read will be told to forget everything they have learned and sit through the stultifying classes anyway. Big Bother has spoken.

Weintraub also dryly notes that the money required for this safari into deepest, darkest nanny-statism -- about $2.4 billion per year -- has already been earmarked by state legislators for higher spending on K-12 education and also earmarked by California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides for paying down the massive California budget deficit. In other words, this now would be the third way that same money would be spent.

The first problem is that California's state income tax is already one of the highest in the nation... and every rise sends another huge batch of wealthy job-creators fleeing to other states, thus reducing the tax base and increasing the misery index. But liberal do-gooders like Rob Reiner never care much about the actual consequences of their bursts of taxpayer-subsidized generosity: what matters is the good intentions; the actual grubby effects are left to someone else, someone less "creative" and more proletarian to sort out. It is enough that Reiner is willing to dig down deep, deep into the pockets of some other guy's trousers to show his compassion for those downtrodden, uneducated ignoramuses who don't even know the whole alphabet by the time they're being potty trained.

But of course, as Karin Klein argues in a Los Angeles Times op-ed,

We don't need this. Preschool is already more "universal" in California than you might think. Somewhere within that patchwork are an estimated 70% of all the 4-year-olds in the state — about 63% in preschool centers, and a handful in family child care. The universal-preschool crowd hopes to raise that to 80%. So to get an additional 10% enrolled, taxes would pick up the bill for the other 70% as well. California's nonuniversal system already covers a bigger percentage of its 4-year-old population than Georgia's universal pre-kindergarten system, now in its 12th year. [Emphasis added]

She also argues that the standardization envisioned by the Reiners of the world would likely decrease, not increase, the positive effects of such pre-kindergarten education:

Consider Doggett's description of what happens in a quality preschool class:

A little boy is happily building with blocks. The teacher (who has a bachelor's degree, of course) comes up to talk with him about the structure he's building. She suggests that he bring some model cars over to incorporate with the blocks. If the blocks make a roadway, how would the cars get to the road? In this way, Doggett says, the child is engaged in critical thinking on how to build a ramp. (In reality, he probably decides with the perfect wisdom of his age that cars can fly.)

Some parents might love this little "teachable moment" scenario. I feel like screaming, "For pity's sake, can't 4-year-olds play with blocks anymore without some teacher trying to turn them into future transportation planning administrators, GS-12, Level B?"

The Reiner initiative's "statewide preschool content standards" would be devised by the state schools' superintendent. These would be "aligned with statewide academic standards" and carried out and supervised by county education departments. It makes you want to weep for those tots.

It makes me want to weep for my home state.

So I guess the rule is that four year olds are best taken away from their parents to be indoctrinated educated by the government -- while fourteen year olds are best taken away to give them abortions without the parents even being so much as notified.

Am I the only one who detects a pattern here?

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, November 16, 2005, at the time of 1:39 AM

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