10-9-15 – More Pre-K Propaganda Pushing a State Take-Over

by Rob Roper

Vermont is suffering from cripplingly high property taxes that pay for our K-12 public education system. Our education financing system has proved to be frustratingly difficult, impossible really, to fix. So why in the name of Sam Hill would the state be moving full-boar toward expanding problems by two grades – mandating that school districts offer taxpayer funded pre-k for 3 and 4 year olds?

And why isn’t the press more critical of this policy?

Two articles by Vermont Digger in as many weeks seem to take proponents’ arguments in favor of pre-k at face value, asks no questions regarding costs to taxpayers, nor asks for any evidence that the program that we have had in place for roughly a decade is doing what its proponents says it will do. (More on that HERE.)

The Digger article states: “STUDIES SHOW PRE-K GIVES CHILDREN A HEAD START.” Yes, studies do show, like the one cited, that kids who are in pre-k programs tend to test better on the subjects taught in these programs than their peers who are not in the programs. This is often referred to as success in “preparing” kids for kindergarten. But we need to ask why we need to prepare kids for a voluntary program (kindergarten) that is supposed to be the place we prepare kids to enter school in the first grade.

Additionally, studies show overwhelmingly that there are no lasting benefits for the pre-k kids beyond the program. (Most notably, the U.S. Health & Human Services Agency’s Head Start Impact Study.) By third grade, the non-pre-k kids are equal to or exceeding their pre-k peers in terms of academic outcomes. So we taxpayers are getting no long-term bang for our buck, and kids are receiving no long term benefit.

The Digger article lists a number of other studies and lessons that Vermont can learn from and apply from other programs. These include ratcheting up the licensing “qualifications” for pre-k teachers (elbowing out the current private-sector entrepreneurs who run daycare centers), and increasing pay to the levels of k-12 public school teachers. We are witnessing the hostile takeover of a private industry by a government monopoly!

“Our biggest challenge has been finding licensed teachers that want to be employed by community-based programs,” said Riegel-Garrett. Translation: We’re going to need to move these programs directly into the public schools.

Another key quote: “Sawyers anticipates that some centers only offering 10 hours of instruction a week – when many families need care for their child during regular working hours – will become another challenge.” Translation, we need to offer full day, five day a week program, just like any other public school grade.

Commenting on this article, Rep. Cynthia Browning (D-Arlington) noted:

My understanding is that once the state mandate to provide Pre K is fully implemented in Vermont the cost will be something like $20 million. This is not all new costs, since some programs were already in operation. But it means that Pre K will account for two cents of the base education property tax rate. To my knowledge the state has not increased its transfer of General Fund dollars into the Education Fund specifically to meet this unfunded mandate on schools, therefore the burden falls entirely on property taxpayers.

But, this $20 million figure only estimates costs for the current 10 hour a week program, in which roughly 1/3 of the state’s 3 and 4 year olds elect to participate. We do not have an estimate for what a full, 40 hour per week program staffed by union-salaried teachers would cost. This is something we deserve to know because this is where our policy makers are taking us!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jim Bulmer October 10, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Let’s be honest for a change. Pre-K Is nothing more than tax payer funded universal day care program and is just one of MANY programs the feel good Dems offer to ensure reelection. The well westablished fact that this multimillion boon dogal long term is a waste is of no concern to these people.

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