4-12-16 – The Next Stage in Costly Public Education Expansion is upon us…

by Rob Roper

Vermont property taxpayers are the boiling frog from that old analogy, certainly when it comes to Montpelier’s (and the VTNEA’s, but I repeat myself) goal of expanding the public school system by two years to include three and four year olds.

First, “Universal Pre-K” was a voluntary program for school districts, and public schools mostly partnered with “qualified” private childcare givers to provide 10 hours of “quality” childcare per week. Then the voluntary aspect went away when the legislature mandated that all school district must provide access to those 10 hours of pre-k whether they want to or not. Then more public schools started to forget about those private partnerships and put programs into their own buildings, staffed by their own staff for, you know, convenience sake.

Then, in 2014 Vermont got a $33 million federal grant (Hooray, free money!) to support full day pre-k programs for four year olds. As a Vermont Digger article notes that one such program “includes meals, transportation and access to art, music, gym and library.” Sounds like whole other grade of school, doesn’t it.  The grant pays for everything except the 10 hours per week Vermonters are mandated to cover under our own law. (You know, the one that mandated what was promised to be a voluntary program.)

But here’s the catch (Betcha saw this coming)…. The federal money goes away after four years. Vermont property taxpayers, get out your wallets!

The lobbying campaign to get the state to saddle Vermont property taxpayers with the bill once the federal money runs out in three years has already begun. As Digger explains:

The Joint Fiscal Office has not yet researched the impact of a change to the weighting system for pre-K students [from .46 to 1.0] on the education fund. Mark Perrault, a fiscal analyst for JFO, said the change would likely lower the per pupil spending rates for towns that offer full-time pre-K. Towns that don’t offer full time pre-K would have higher per pupil spending rates, and under the education yield formula, would end up absorbing the cost in higher local property taxes for towns that do provide full-time pre-K, he said.

So, the districts that don’t offer this program get to pay for those that do, until this perverse incentive drives everybody to implement the program, at which time everybody has to pay…. And dearly. Keep in mind that the $33 million grant (average $8.25 million per year) only covers programs in eight supervisory unions and a half a dozen or so individual school districts.

All this for programs that, by the way, do not work as advertised. EAI has written extensively on the failure-at-great-expense that are universal pre-k programs, and won’t repeat the statistics here, but will just remind our readers that all of this is a colossal waste of money if the objective is to improve children’s outcomes over the course of their k-12 careers.

So, this giant, tax eating Anaconda of an education bureaucracy is about to successfully swallow Vermont’s four year olds into a full day, public school, pre-k program with all the trimmings from transportation to free meals. The next step will be the three-year-olds.

Unless, of course, the taxpayers say no to picking up the tab from the feds.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

H. Brooke paige April 12, 2016 at 4:59 pm

The VT NEA’s “Brave New World”

Soon the VTNEA will have compliance officers in every hospital delivery room to assume “responsibility” for the newborns, signing them up for diaper room studies covering everything from drooling and cooing to potty training and napping !

“Parents ? We don’t need no stinking parents !”
Few remember that this has all been explained in detail by Aldous Huxley and George Orwell !


Clayton April 12, 2016 at 6:53 pm

I had a discussion with my state rep. about such matters. It seems the liberals in Montpelier never take into account what to do when grant monies expire or are depleted. All they see is another program started that they can claim as an achievement.


jim bulmer April 16, 2016 at 12:58 am

What the hell, we’ll add more grades and spend more of the tax payers hard earned dollars and to pay for this unwanted addition to the ever increasing cost of education, we’ll just raise taxes and increase “fees”. The idiot Vermonters wont know the difference and the folks in Montpelier will laugh all the way to their reelection come November. Will we ever learn???????


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