Suffer the Little Children (Universal Preschool Edition)

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Wendy McElroy on universal preschool programs, such as the one being pushed by Rob Reiner in California:

This is the great danger: the presumption that government can raise children better than parents. If universal preschool is voluntary, then it may merely create another massive and ultra-expensive bureaucracy that accomplishes little.

If it is compulsory, then universal preschool will extend the government's usurpation of parenthood so that all 3- and 4-year-olds are under state supervision.

Whole thing here.

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  1. If it’s voluntary it will accomplish little? If parents are provided with the option of free prescool, there won’t be a big response?

    Credibility swirling…swirling…gurgle gurgle gone.

  2. Joe–

    Accomplish little that isn’t already being done, sure: Increasing numbers of parents have been sending their kids to preschool/daycare/whatever you want to call it for years now (McElroy also does a flash-by of data dealing with the long-term educational effects of early interventions on poor children, which tend to show little lasting impact).

    So you can plug the drain on this one, methinks.

    If voluntary state-funded programs become the norm, there’s no doubt that they will engender massive bureaucracies, like everything else done at that level.

  3. Far better for California to try this and discover what a boondoggle it will be, so the geniuses in the Federal government won’t be able to foist this on the rest of us unawares.

  4. I have a lot of mixed emotions about this one but I take some issue with the statement, “This is the great danger: the presumption that government can raise children better than parents.”

    I have not read as much on Reiner’s particular proposal but I am familiar with the overall issue.

    I don’t think that the drive is to have the government “raise” anyones children.

    Sending a child 1 or 2 years older to a public school certainly doesn’t qualify as the government “raising” kids.

    Of course we can split hairs over the minutea of this one all day long but at the end of the day it’s a lot of over-emotional hooey and hyperbole.

    According to most of the reasearch I’ve read, plain fact of it is children who get the benefits of early education have fewer problem with reading and math education down the road.

    Now if you want to argue the taxation aspects, I can understand that one. And more troubling are the labor/union issues in Reiner’s specific initiative.

    And if you want to be more pointed about the Government teaching our kids (as opposed to raising them) I’ll entertain that.

    But the “Oh my God, we can’t have the government raising our kids” crap is a flatly moronic sentiment of tin-foil-hat loonies who think everyone should be home schooled.

  5. First off, unrelated but sort of related: Connecticut sending police into schools to levy monetary fines on kids who use “curse words.” Amazing.

    Second, whatever the merits or lack therof of mandatory, universal publicly-funded preschools, my instincts tell me that studies indicating a second-grade (or third- or fourth-, etc.) leveling-out of gains from low-income targeted preschools might be as much an argument in favor of improving the nature of grade-school education — which is mandatory and which is not targeted — as it is an argument againts targeted pre-school programs.

  6. Nick, your argument rests on the assumption that daycare is daycare is daycare, which is untrue. A quality preschool with a good curriculum and good teachers is a million miles from watching TV at the neighbors’ house. Many, many parents, particularly lower income ones who simply cannot afford the quality preschool environment my little one is in, would love to have that chance for their kids.

    And what parents know, that anti-school advocates don’t, is that early eduction has huge results, results that make themselves known in a powerful way at early ages. That there is problem in later grades that sometimes allows these gains to fade is a strike against those grades, not against preschool.

  7. joe – Out of curiosity, do you believe such a program should be mandatory?

  8. As regards the McElroy piece, I was under the (perhaps flawed) impression that Fax was supposed to be “Fair And Balanced.”

    Typical of their obvious hackness, the only balance is found in reporting the Rand Corporation study that supports the notion of early education…only to 1-2-punch it with criticisms.

    The only “analysis” of a competing program is a 20-year-old study of the tremendously-flawed Head Start program.

    Most laughably stilted is this little nugget about a homeschool advocate (no agenda there).

    “Mary Eberstadt offers evidence that children who are “institutionalized” at an early age develop a lessened ability to relate with peers, emotional problems like depression, and score lower on standardized tests.

    Of course McElroy doesn’t seem to find this “evidence” compelling enough to actually discuss any of it.

  9. Brett,

    I dunno. Probably not. First grade should definitely be mandatory. Maybe Kindergarten. I don’t know about preschool.

  10. Make that “Fox”…not “Fax”.

  11. Any parents who’s had their kid in a decent daycare knows that the experience helps, not harms, their social development.

    Kids aren’t meant to spend all of their time with their parents. They’re meant to run around in packs, and spend some of the time under the care of other adults.

  12. Heh. Joe and I accidentally made the same argument! And somewhere, a beautiful unicorn flew away over a scintillating rainbow.

  13. Kids aren’t meant to spend all of their time with their parents. They’re meant to run around in packs, and spend some of the time under the care of other adults.

    I would tend to agree with this (kid #1 is on the way, so I don’t have experience here yet). But anyone who suggests that the best solution here is mandatory state-funded pre-school is out to lunch. I’ve got two nieces age 2 and 3 who don’t go to pre-school and get more social pack time than Paris Hilton.

  14. I thought it was universally accepted that government can raise children better than parents. At least today’s modern parents. Everytime someone says “X must be banned to protect the children” they are conceding that fact, and I hear this nanny state construct hundreds of times per day. People who squirt out kids expect the government to do their job for them, and I think it’s much more than mere laziness.

    To successfully raise a child, a vast majority of the population must be locked up in prisons for the duration of its childhood. I didn’t think that was even debated anymore.

  15. Bruce M,

    Mongolians should raise our kids. 🙂

  16. I think prechool should be madatory and voluntary. And since I’m a parent, my reasoning is infallible and you cannot argue with me.

  17. Brett, if you’ve got good kid-watching and playgroup organization on your block, that’s wonderful. I’d love to a see a “preschool” program that paid a teacher to go to work for the parents on your block, and bring some academic activities into the group.

  18. “Mongolians should raise our kids. :)”

    In the future, every adult should be able to say, “I got my education out behind the yurt.”

  19. sage,

    Of course you can argue. But if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re going to lose.

  20. “If parents are provided with the option of free prescool, there won’t be a big response?”

    It’s not free. That is to say, it wouldn’t BE free.

  21. “Using our preferred assumptions, a one-year high-quality universal preschool program in California is estimated to generate about $7,000 in net present value benefits per child … using a 3 percent discount rate. This equals a return of $2.62 for every dollar invested, or an annual rate of return of about 10 percent over a 60-year horizon.”

    Something tells me that much of this wishful thinking.

  22. sage,

    Yes, someone will be paying for it, in the case of California, if it passes, it’ll be high-income folks (though as the program increases in cost over time expect them to drop down the tax into lower tax brackets).

  23. Hakluyt,

    No real argument there. Just as wishful as the folks who say that early education (read “institutionalization”) causes children to “develop a lessened ability to relate with peers, emotional problems like depression, and score lower on standardized tests.”

    Numerous recent studies – most notably a recent study in Germany – show quite the opposite.

  24. Joe, you believe that it is healthy and proper for children to primarily “run around in packs”. I’ll see your pack and raise you a Piggy. The only thing children learn from other children is how to behave like animals.

  25. dj,

    Properly supervised packs are still packs. It’s the social aspect I was talking about.

    What did they DO to you in high school?

  26. “Any parents who’s had their kid in a decent daycare knows that the experience helps, not harms, their social development”

    I love science

  27. scott,

    I wonder what happens when a parent disagrees with joe’s anecdotally evidenced commentary. 🙂

  28. Investing in children is a no-brainer on a par with investing in real estate. (bubble?)
    The questions are: Can government really invest? Does government’s “bad” money drive out good money? Finally, who should be entitled to the return on “investment.”

  29. Scott and Hak,

    Invoking a universal truth while at the same time appealing to the children is in fact science. It’s just not the kind you learned about in your fancy daycare.

  30. The presumption that the government can raise children better than parents is dangerous. The reality is that the government can raise children better than some of the parents I’ve come into contact with. You only need to visit your city’s family court on any given day as evidence of that. I’m not big on forcing parents to send their kids anywhere, both for moral and financial (tax) reasons, but then what is the solution? It would be great if every person who chose to become a parent was at least a reasonably conscientious individual, but that’s just not the case. If anyone can point me to an educational system that works without coercion, I’d like to read about it.

  31. And another thing:
    The educational establishment’s cup runneth over already with our tax money.

  32. Does government’s “bad” money drive out good money?

    Thanks for getting to the real question Ruthless. my guess would be “yes”.

    THere are three and four year-old kids who haven’t quite mastered going to the potty yet. Imagine what will hit the fan when they are forced to go to preschool. Most preschools, being private, are able to exclude the kids who are not potty-trained.

  33. I like how people who can’t actually contradict my statement, because it is unassailable, make themselves feel better by objecting to how I made it. Look hard, sage, maybe you cand find a spelling error, and your self esteem will go up!

  34. davepotts,
    Well there’s this
    http://www.cato.org/research/education/choice.html
    Not sure if any of that qualifies, but it’s relevant and worth reading.

  35. State-sponsored preschool/daycare is one of the few things that the Swedish model supposedly does correctly, and does provide a return on investment. If the kids are in daycare, then mommy can go back to work. This is of particular benefit to the poor. Rich mommies can use the time to shop, again good for the economy.

    Personally, I think this is a great thing for California to try. If it works, then my home state can give it a whirl.

    I don’t believe that the State has any real impact on the children. It’s all about the peer group.

  36. Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back there, Joseph. While I agree with the general thrust of your arguments, obviously, your statement is hardly “unassailable.” If it were an obvious truth that preschool/daycare benefits all parents and children unequivocally, there’d be no reason for you to be on the fence as to whether it should be mandatory. Your statement also begs the question as to what a “decent” preschool is, and it invites even a single contradictory experience to nullify it. Some kids just aren’t ready for that kind of structured socialization at that age.

    A little more thought, and a little less on the smugness, mmmmmkay?

  37. Joe makes some good points,

    I am sure that the program will perform as well as, if not better than, public schools do. After all the instituional pressures and the bureacratic pressures are completely different. Concerns that the government funded preschools will put private preschools out of business, reducing choice for all but wealthier families are really overblown.

    Additionally, the program is voluntary, and there is no track record of governments making voluntary programs mandatory, look at Social Security for example. There is little chance that it will turn out to be more expensive than planned requiring more people to be taxed to pay for it.

    People just do not see what a great idea it is to take money from very rich people and use it to help poor children. After all, I’m sure that those rich people didn’t plan on investing that money or using it to fund charities. The state will do a far better job of disbursing the funds, as it always does.

  38. Thanks, Warren. I think greater educational choice is a great idea, and certainly, the types of schools that would arise out of a more market based system would be ideal. My question is how do you deal with those kids whose parents couldn’t give a rat’s ass where their kids go every weekday morning? I think most parents do care, and would love the opportunity to send their children to a dynamic and creative private institution, but what about the others?

  39. “If the kids are in daycare, then mommy can go back to work. This is of particular benefit to the poor. Rich mommies can use the time to shop, again good for the economy.”

    bubba,
    Truth in advertising.
    Is it school or daycare?
    If it’s daycare, is it “investing” in children?

  40. This looks like yet another tax expansion on those of us who choose not to have kids. Childless professionals get an extra-special tax screwjob in our wonderful “village”. No doubt.

  41. My, we’re testy. Sorry joe, maybe instead of asking for a citing or something substantial to back your claim, I should just remember the adage “Don’t stir the shit and it won’t stink.”

  42. This argument seems to hit a certain basic of libertarian thought – that ALL folks should be free to do as they please because MOST folks are responsible.

    The corrolary here, of course, is that ALL folks should be free to choose their educational options for their children.

    Of course I don’t really buy into that. Experience (mine) suggests that large numbers of people throughout this country are ignorant, self-absorbed and prone to making enormously bad decisions rarely based on facts, logic or predictably bad outcomes.

    Even if only 1 percent of the population fits that description, that’s 3 million people out there capable of making the world a more dangerous place simply because they exist.

    Just because they might be responsible enough doesn’t necessariy ensure that they are competent enough to make solid choices. It’s a fair bet that many parents would jump at even a lame, substandard option as long as their child were reasonably protected from harm and not completely bored to death.

  43. sage,
    I hadn’t given it deep thought before, but shit is like aluminum isn’t it?: fairly quickly provides it’s own oxidized wrapper.

  44. This argument seems to hit a certain basic of libertarian thought – that ALL folks should be free to do as they please because MOST folks are responsible.

    The corrolary here, of course, is that ALL folks should be free to choose their educational options for their children becuase they capable of doing so.

    Of course I don’t really buy into that. Experience (mine) suggests that large numbers of people throughout this country are ignorant, self-absorbed and prone to making enormously bad decisions rarely based on facts, logic or predictably bad outcomes.

    Even if only 1 percent of the population fits that description, that’s 3 million people out there capable of making the world a more dangerous place simply because they exist.

    Just because they might be responsible enough to choose their education options doesn’t necessariy ensure that they are competent enough to make solid choices. It’s a fair bet that many parents would jump at even a lame, substandard option as long as their child were reasonably protected from harm and not completely bored to death.

    I’m NOT saying the nanny state option of forced early education is a good one. I am saying that many of the arguments against providing early education at all are falling flat based on (at least my perception of) reality.

  45. Sir Nice Guy:

    having babies is the most [fill in depending on statist approach] 1) patriotic 2) socially just thing a family can do.

    does everybody agree that preschool, etc. can be beneficial to kids (not advocating mandatory or publically funded or special religious 2nd ammendment anti abortion pro torture schools here, just the concept)?

    does everybody agree that socialization is also important?

    leaving aside the funding, is anybody out there against some sort of preschool for their own kids, assuming having them?

    Start there, how about…

  46. Well spoken, Madpad. You said it much more succinctly than I could.

  47. “Even if only 1 percent of the population fits that description, that’s 3 million people out there capable of making the world a more dangerous place simply because they exist.”

    madpad,
    The way to whittle down that number is:
    1. anarchy
    2. families sovereign
    3. families ruthless

  48. Madpad, life is like a shit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat.

  49. VM,
    Socialization is poison. That is precisely what we are trying to avoid here on H&R.

  50. Rather, the more bread you have, the less shit you notice…

  51. Is it just me or is there something really scary and chilling about the idea of compulsive pre-school? Basically, people want all children to be sent off to a government institution for 8 or more hours a day 5 days a week from the time they can walk. One of the many reasons why do gooder liberals scare the hell out of me.

  52. Madpad,

    Even if you are right about large numbers of people being incapable of making a good decision, wouldn’t that also be true about government bureaucrats? If the public can’t make the right decisions, why would the government be any better? At least with freedom, bad decisions are restricted to those who choose them rather than forced on everyone through government coercion.

  53. sage, I have experiences, I share my experiences, and when my experiences are very common, I say that. If you have reason to believe my perception about the broad applicability of my experience is in question, let me know. This “boo hoo, joe is drawing conclusions from his experience and his discussions with others” act adds nothing to the debate.

  54. joe,
    How would you like to experience a fat lip?
    (Kidding. I had a donut this morning and am on a sugar–corn syrup–high.)

  55. some bad decisions are restricted to those who make them: the decision to shoot heroin, the decision to invest your money with that guy who keeps e-mailing you from Nigeria, the decision to go and see Cheaper By the Dozen 2. Other bad decisions, like armed robbery, rape, and fraud, have more far reaching consequences. While I definitely see your point, John, and for the most part agree; a child is incapable of making sound decisions altogether, and therefore must have decisions made for him.

    Another thing I wonder is what the cost is of not ensuring a child’s education, not in terms of what harm they may do to society at a later time in their lives, but what might they have been able to accomplish had they been educated?

  56. If the public can’t make the right decisions, why would the government be any better?

    I was pretty specific when I said that I was NOT advocating a compulsory option.

    But many of the criticisms were against the option at all.

    Even if you are right about large numbers of people being incapable of making a good decision.”

    I never said they were incapable of making a good decision, just that they were prone to making bad ones.

    At least with freedom, bad decisions are restricted to those who choose them rather than forced on everyone through government coercion.

    When a parent makes a bad decision – especially one made through ignorance or neglectful habits – the child also suffers as does a society that has to support them either through a welfare structure, lower productivity or prison.

    There are lot’s of examples of the success of no complusory education programs at all. Somalia and the Democratic Republic Of Congo come to mind.

  57. Davepotts,

    The issue is who do we want socializing our children, the government or parents. My view is that I would rather have the freedom to raise my own children and live with the consequences of the bad parents than loose that freedom and live with the consequences of bad bureaucrats. We have had compulsive schooling in this country for a 100 years or more, yet we still have violent youths. I don’t think any amount of pre-school or government programs is going to change that. As a future parent, I feel I have the absolute right and duty to determine how and when my children are socialized and what they are taught. I do not want my children at a government institution at too early an age being taught God only knows what politically correct ideology is fashionable in the education schools these days.

  58. “An eighth–grader at West Central Junior High has been removed from school and may face a charge of disorderly conduct after school officials learned last week about a list that named students and school staff the boy considered irritating,” reports the Hawk Eye of Burlington, Iowa, from Stronghurst, Ill.:

    In a telephone interview Tuesday, [Superintendent Ralph] Grimm said the teen was taken out of school after being confronted Nov. 24 by Principal Jeff Nichols, who learned about the list late the previous day. A disciplinary hearing before the School Board has been set for Thursday.

    The list was not a product of the Internet, Grimm said, but was in physical possession of the student.

    Grimm would not go into detail about the nature of the list, or explain why its existence was deemed serious enough to precipitate the student’s removal from school and the involvement of law enforcement.

    In the post-Columbine massacre environment, Grimm said it is appropriate to err on the side of caution in these circumstances.

    “You just can’t take a chance,” he said. . . .

    There was no indication any other students at the school were involved in creation of the list, which Grimm said contained the names of people the boy found “annoying.”

    This is an anicdote I know, but you all wonder why I don’t trust these people to run a pre-school? Rather than start government funded pre-schools, how about fixing the insanity that goes on in public schools first. When these clowns can be trusted with a 12 year old, then maybe lets let them at our 4 year olds.

  59. Reiner’s proposal is little more than a jobs creation act for teachers and bureaucrats.

    Public funding of preschool seems like the perfect opportunity to employ a voucher system. Currently preschool is a fine system, barely regulated, hardly involved with the state. It’s doing so well that people have started to notice how well kids do after being in pre-school. Now they think every kid should have that chance.

    Great idea. Fine. A better use of our public money than most, I’ll give ’em that. just stay the hell out of the system. hand out the vouchers if you must but for the love of god stay out of it.

    nmg

  60. John,
    Point taken. Whether the government socializes children, or parents do it, there will always be that percentage of kids who fall through the cracks. As a product of state education, I can tell you that I’m no big fan. One thing I wonder about though is if there won’t be more who fall through the cracks if education isn’t in some sense mandatory.

  61. davepotts,
    The unsocialized will always be with us.
    (Unless Bush sees us through to victory over the …)

  62. joe,

    because it is unassailable…

    Claiming that something is unassailable doesn’t make it so. And yes, anecdotal claims (which is all that you have at best) are assailable merely because they are anecdotal.

  63. Somehow I remember joe promising that we wouldn’t be seeing much of him now that he has new job and all.

  64. “Socialization is poison”

    bohahahahahaha. Ruthless! can i establish “Otisville”?

    “Reiner’s proposal is little more than a jobs creation act for teachers and bureaucrats.”

    maybe the EROI on their hot air will cure global warming. or will the hot air cause more?

    🙂

  65. After googling further, I found this summary of the initiative on the official website.
    Yep, looks very much like a tax-the-rich jobs creation act for unions.

    *
    Provides quality, part-day preschool for all 4-year-olds in California whose parents choose to enroll them in the year before kindergarten;
    *
    Ensures state level authority and local flexibility;
    *
    Puts well-trained teachers and aides in every preschool classroom;
    *
    Assures the public?s right to know its investment is achieving good results for kids; and
    *
    Asks the wealthiest .6% of Californians to invest in our young children by increasing their tax rate byan additional 1.7% on taxable income over $800,000 for married couples and $400,000 for individuals.

    Sounds like heavy state oversight, heavy union involvement, and anyone who thinks the taxes for this won’t go up is out of their mind. What a horrible, horrible idea. Especially when vouchers could work so easily and smoothly within the already successful preschool system in place.

    It’s like religion for these people. Everything must be a govt program.

    nmg

  66. davepotts & madpad,
    What you are saying, is that if I had my way, horrible injustice would occur. You are right of course. However, I maintain that freedom is the best of all possible worlds. Injustice occurs today and will also occur in joe?s worker?s utopia. You can?t end injustice by passing a law against it. The point is A) there will be immediate benefit by empowering the majority of parents that possess minimum competency and love their children and B) the remaining problematic parents will be handled best by a flexible system that does not enable their incompetence and provides aid and assistance from impassioned, motivated humanitarians.

  67. VM,

    Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains.

    joe,

    …I have experiences, I share my experiences, and when my experiences are very common, I say that.

    Dude, you were discussing more than your “experiences,” you were making an absolutist claim.

    mapdpad,

    There are lot’s of examples of the success of no complusory education programs at all. Somalia and the Democratic Republic Of Congo come to mind.

    We didn’t have compulsory education in the U.S. for the entire length of the 19th century (for the most part). The U.S. never looked like the D.R. Congo or Somalia. Whatever the problems of the D.R. Congo or Somalia, one can’t seriously attribute them to a lack of compulsory education.

  68. John,

    My view is that I would rather have the freedom to raise my own children and live with the consequences of the bad parents than loose that freedom and live with the consequences of bad bureaucrats.

    Right. joe, madpad, etc. essentially ignore the revenge effects associated with compulsory education. They simply refuse to acknowledge that there are costs associated with compulsory education which may wholely outweigh the benefits of it.

  69. nmg,

    Does it shock anyone that joe would be in favor of a centralized nanny-state program?

  70. As far as I have been able to learn, the “head start” of pre-school does not generally turn into a permanent lead in life’s race. The non-preschooled kids catch up in a few years. So the question is, what benefit does the child get for being ahead of the game early on, and why should the taxpayers pony up to pay for that benefit?

    While I agree that kids needn’t be around their parents ALL the time, and that social time with peers is critically important, I don’t think that a state-sponsored institution needs to exist, providing that social outlet at taxpayer expense. I also find it ironic that one of the reasons for both parents needing to work is the inability of one breadwinner to support a family in relative comfort in today’s economy. It has been shown that, in the typical dual income household, the gross income of the lesser earner is equal to the amount of taxes paid at all levels by the household, while the gross income of the greater earner is sufficient to handle all of the after-tax expenses of the household. If it weren’t for taxes, then, one breadwinner’s income could still support a family. Also, inflation erases savings and devalues constant wages, preventing a family from pulling ahead by saving a little here and there: Rising prices eat up income that might be saved, as well as anything that actually gets into any savings account that doesn’t earn enough interest to stay ahead of inflation.

    Taxes and inflation are government’s fault, no question about it; from where I sit, they seem to be the two biggest reasons why parents have to work so many hours and either leave their kids home alone, or put them in daycare. Now some are proposing to raise taxes to further entrench the band-aid of daycare (allegedly to confer some kind of temporary educational benefit), which will only contribute to the spiral of familial deterioration, when lowering taxes and curbing inflation would actually help families be more prosperous, allowing one or more parents to spend more time raising the kids.

    Why must government and its apologists keep pressing for more government involvement in areas that aren’t and shouldn’t be any of its business, while ignoring or remaining silent about the things that government CAN do to address problems, which ARE part of its proper business? How about letting people keep their own money on the one hand, and turning off the money presses for awhile on the other hand? Government is competent to do THAT, but rarely gets serious about either option.

    Finally, if kids will be in daycare without their parents for any significant length of time on most days, during the years before they turn six or seven, then whoever is running the daycare will indeed be raising those children to a large extent. Do we want the government (or those whose livelihoods are directly controlled by the government) to assume that role?

  71. This is an anicdote I know, but you all wonder why I don’t trust these people to run a pre-school? Rather than start government funded pre-schools, how about fixing the insanity that goes on in public schools first. When these clowns can be trusted with a 12 year old, then maybe lets let them at our 4 year olds.

    John, don?t you think that you?re overreacting? It?s no surprise that in an educational system with millions of students and hundreds of thousands of teachers and administrators that every so often you?re going to see cases where somebody uses questionable judgment to handle a situation.

  72. Hakluyt,

    In the book from Dawn to Decadence Jacques Barzun predicts that eventually the public will revolt against compulsory education and refuse to pay for it. I think that is a bit much to expect, but Barzun is a lot smarter than I am, so who knows.

  73. Dan,

    Its not just that story that causes me not to trust the education establishment. That is just one example. As Mr. Merrit points out above, if you have government preschool, they really are raising children for the most part. I am not comfortable with that idea at all.

  74. One gets the impression that Plato’s Republic and his notions regarding child rearing are what liberals are ultimately drving at.

  75. John,
    There’s an obscure book on the history of Pennsylvania (I need to dig it out of the library) that talks about the German community telling Ben Franklin where to stick his proposed, government-sponsored school. Ben was even willing to have German-speaking teachers.

  76. “Taxes and inflation are government’s fault, no question about it; from where I sit, they seem to be the two biggest reasons why parents have to work so many hours and either leave their kids home alone, or put them in daycare.”

    The solution to this is more reliance on the income tax, and less on the payroll, property, and sales tax. But, of course, I doubt whether most people here were thinking along those lines. Instead, let’s starve the beast some more, right?

    Clue: Sales and property taxes hurt – but there’s very little additional fat to be cut at the local and state levels. Payroll taxes hurt; but you’re not going to like what’s going to happen to income taxes.

    But income taxes? Give me a break. Today, they’re the least of the worries for the lower middle-class.

  77. This is all you need to know.

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr05/yr05rel45.asp

    What is it? It’s a press release issued by the California Dept of Education promoting not only the initiative but Rob Reiner himself, complete with quotes from Reiner and others praising him and the initiative.

    Why is my state govt spending my money on PR to promote this political agenda? My state govt should not be in the business of promoting new expansions to itself, espeically ones that just happen to significantly expand the public employees union.

    Ah, yes, it’s “for the children”.

    nmg

  78. Archie Bunker had Reiner’s number.

  79. But income taxes? Give me a break. Today, they’re the least of the worries for the lower middle-class.

    How cavalier you are with other people’s money. But then you obviously know better how to use it than they do, right? Par for the course.

    but there’s very little additional fat to be cut at the local and state levels.

    This is laughable. Beyond laughable. “Fat” of course just means govt spending you don’t feel is necessary. It’s all subjective but my local city councilwoman’s 4 member staff who spend all day drafting “Community Newsletters” might be a start.

    nmg

  80. California cannot afford its current mega-government, and the nanny-staters want to add more. Beautiful! This will hasten its collapse and perhaps ultimately result in a wakeup call.

    Geez, color me optimistic today. 🙂

  81. But income taxes? Give me a break. Today, they’re the least of the worries for the lower middle-class.

    Well . . . to the extent that we ignore away the effects of the Bush tax cuts and the ripple effect of states increasing taxes to make up for lost Federal revenue.

  82. Let’s just make it the personal responsibility for every parent to educate their child however they see fit.

    No more public schools. No regulation. No teachers unions.

    In a few years you’ll have a small over class of well educated children competing with a majority of undereducated folks who fall into 3 categories,

    1. Religious zealots capable of reading and writing as well as basic math but with no knowledge of science and a hostile regard for it.

    2. Cottage industry types eeeking out a living with varying degrees of success. A majority of Children will know just enough to get by.

    3. A large majority of children unable to write, read or communicate to any degree of success.

    We’ve seen this all before, of course. Europe and America from the dark ages until about 100 years ago.

    We’re seeing it today in large portions of Africa and the Middle East.

    Gets me how the same folks who are clamoring for this “let’s get rid of public school’s” garbarge are the same one ignorant of history and the larger world.

  83. Dan, you can’t win here by pointing out that public schools actually work fine for most people and especially for the poor (for whom the private sector alternative even in libertopia would not exist) – it does not fit with the ideological mission. (I’m amazed somebody dared to bring up Sweden; they’re probably regretting it by now).

  84. “Last fall, Reiner assembled an exploratory committee of business, labor, K-12 and early care and education leaders to craft the best possible policy for California children. The committee included: Edward Condon, Executive Director of the California Head Start Association; Sandra Gutierrez, Consultant, Parents Action for Children; Warren Hellman, Chairman, Hellman & Friedman LLC; Phil Halperin, President of the Silver Giving Foundation; Karen Hill-Scott, Lead Consultant to First 5 LA, for the development of Universal Preschool in Los Angeles County; Sherry Lansing, Chairman Emeritus of Paramount Pictures; Pat Phipps, Executive Director of the California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAEYC); Nancy Daly Riordan, children’s rights advocate; and Dean Tipps, Executive Director of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California State Council.”

    The above group is even more predictable in their views than we are.

  85. madpad,
    I don’t buy your gloomy scenario.
    And, for another thing, you are, to a large extent, describing humanity.
    Whassmatteryou?
    You don’t like humanity the way it is?
    Most of here are fine with it.
    Most of us have led horses to drink too.

  86. Keep in mind I did base my “gloomy scenario” on patterns of history and current events.

    It’s something of a truism that societies that provide education for it’s citizens tends to do much better than those that don’t.

    As for describing humanity, sure I am. I think I was pretty obvious about that.

    In large measure, doing things like providing education sort of saves people from themselves. I know the very thought of “saving freethinking people from themselves” is something of anathema for libertarian idealists.

    Which is precisely my point. Many libertarian ideals are noble and fine and I wholely agree with. Limited government, lower taxes, distrust of bureacracy, etc are great ones.

    But some libertarian ideals (such as relentless attacks on public education) just don’t hold water when reality is introduced.

    We have public education because, for better or worse, it’s better than the alternative (none).

  87. “leaving aside the funding, is anybody out there against some sort of preschool for their own kids, assuming having them?”

    Yes. (I have five.)

  88. We don’t like educational monopolies for the same reasons we don’t like any other kind of monopolies. If we can pull out the ‘oh, well, stuff is good enough, you are just nitpicking’ card to say that public schools are working just fine, we should pull out that same card in every single case where a product or service is being provided by a monopoly.

    When we say that parents should have the discretion and the responsibility to educate their children, we are saying that we believe the market will provide all sorts of options – just like it does for food, clothes, shelter. Many who make this argument absolutely support the idea that there should be at least an educational welfare program. We just don’t happen to believe that the options are monopoly public schools or madpad’s dystopia. To me, that is like arguing that without a government brand car, only rich people can get transportation. Why would the market ever give us a Hyundai?

  89. Many opponents of the public school system wholeheartedly embrace a publicly funded voucher system (I am one). So, opposing public schools as they are implemented now does not mean we want to live in Somalia.

    Nice try though.

    If all public school advocates really care about is making sure that all kids can be educated, why the vehement opposition to vouchers? I assume it’s politics rather than an actual desire to educate kids.

    Anyone who claims competition among service providers will result in poorer service is either a politician, a liar, or crazy.

    nmg

  90. madpad,

    Keep in mind I did base my “gloomy scenario” on patterns of history and current events.

    Actually, you didn’t. Public education in the U.S. has a very, very sorry history.

    As to the idea that all material and social progress started one hundred years ago, etc. (which is the implication of your statement) that is utter tripe. Do some actual research on the nature of education in 18th and 19th century Europe and America and you will soon find that learning and education were the pursuits of significant portions of the general populace, be it in the form of travelling libraries, travelling scientific displays, etc. There has been a ton of work done in this area and to paint the pre-20th century as some great dark age is both ignorant and wholly against the grain of what we know of the past.

  91. joe,

    Two aspects you appear to neglect:

    1) self-supervised group recreation, where kids (of a wide variety of ages) in a neighborhood organize their own activities, is being replaced by adult-supervised interaction with a same-age “peer group.” In other words, socialization into a barracks society.

    2) less and less private time to pursue interests of one’s own choosing, because of increased time doing assigned homework, or adult-supervised running in packs.

  92. madpad,

    Indeed, to be more blunt, the market provided all sorts of intellectual enrichment for folks be they in big cities or in rural parts – be they travelling operas, penny libraries, the penny press, etc.

  93. Kevin Carson,

    Like I wrote above, child rearing a la Plato’s Republic seems to be the perferred option of liberals.

  94. Jason, you beat me to it and you did it better. Excellent.

    nmg

  95. Kevin,

    I agree with your points, but they’re a little off topic. 1) This is about time during school hours, not after school or on weekends. I would agree that kids, at all ages, would do better with less-structured leisure time than seems to be becoming the norm. But I agree with this statement when it comes to 12 and 15 year olds as well, yet I doubt anyone would object to their spending time in school.

    2) Preschools don’t have homework. They also have long periods of play time.

    There is nothing contradictory about believing pre-school is a good thing, and believing leisure time is becoming too structured.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I seem to have interrupted somebody who was telling you what I believe in.

  96. Far better for California to try this and discover what a boondoggle it will be, so the geniuses in the Federal government won’t be able to foist this on the rest of us unawares.

    Has that really stopped much at all?

  97. I object to 12 to 15 years spending time in detention centers, oops, I mean “schools”.

    The modern American public school is a waste of time, by definition – that is exactly what it is set up to do: to waste time, so that kids aren’t running around causing problems and thinking for themselves. It is not meant to educate. If education was the goal, the entire system would be re-structured.

    Really, the public school system is nothing but a corporate drone factory.

  98. Lemur,

    The goal of public schooling is indoctrination. The “public” (meaning here interest groups interested enough in the issue) after all demands that certain types of subjects be taught and in certain ways. We aren’t talking about a free-wheeling intellectual debate here.

  99. the public school system is nothing but a corporate drone factory.

    So you concede that they prepare kids for the workforce? 🙂

  100. The idea that a public school won’t have largely “structured” play time is a freaking joke.

  101. “Keep in mind I did base my “gloomy scenario” on patterns of history and current events.”

    Actually, only if you live in Bizarro world. Hak has only given you the tip of the iceberg with regard to the historical side. As for current events, there have been several well-documented studies that show that African countries that don’t have ‘public’ education programs have well developed private markets that supply services to all who desire them, and achieve equal, if not better literacy and education rates to African countries that do have ‘public’ education.

    Next, people need to actually visit private schools here in the U.S. I have a working relationship with over 20 in my area, ranging from “run-of-the-mill” neighborhood Catholic schools to high-end nationally recognized prep schools. Do you know the one thing they all have in common? Over 10% of their enrollment have full scholarships! So those who claim that poor children would be shut out of a market based system are really just speaking out of their nether regions…

  102. “In large measure, doing things like providing education sort of saves people from themselves.”

    Not to pile on madpad, but the best way to save people from themselves is to save them from their government, with “government” including government schools.

  103. M1EK said, “But income taxes? Give me a break. Today, they’re the least of the worries for the lower middle-class.”

    Well, lacking a thorough audit in my own case, I can’t refute your claim. On the other hand, my boss announced that I would be getting a small, but “nice” bonus in the last paycheck. He told me the gross amount and estimated a certain amount of withholding to suggest the net amount that he thought would get to me. The estimated figure did sound “nice.”

    When the check finally came, fully forty percent had been withheld for federal and state income tax purposes. No, this wasn’t special withholding; my normal paycheck is reduced at a similar rate. The “nice” bonus was chopped down to barely registering on the radar.

    What’s my income? $500K/yr? $250K/yr? Even $100K/yr? Aim MUCH lower, sheriff. Add the fact that I live in high-cost California, and the conclusion is that my family and I are barely hanging on to a middle-class standard of living. It’s been that way for many years, now. You may say that the income taxes are the least of my worries, but I tell you from many years’ experience that the amount taken for income tax is clearly the difference between “nice” and “not nice,” in my case and those of many others I know.

    Incidentally, my wife also needs to work, and the business about the lesser earner paying the taxes and the greater earner supporting the household certainly applies to my family. As far as keeping in touch with our son under the two-earner circumstances, my wife has been fortunate to be able to find work with the schools that my son has attended since first grade. Very few families have that option, however. As a Libertarian, I felt bad about her being a government employee for a time, but if it kept her close to our son, fine, and she did give the district and the taxpayers their money’s worth and more. Now, however, she works at the private high school that our son currently attends; she brings home enough money to pay the taxes and his tuition is part of the deal.

    The whole attitude and mindset at the private school is a world apart from those at the public school. The parents are paying the bills, and they are not shy about stating their needs and relating to the faculty as clients/sponsors/employers. But for the most part, these relations are positive and respectful, because the (entirely non-tenured and non-unionized) faculty delivers value for money. Also, having to pay for school themselves (or having made the mental/emotional commitment to do so) seems to motivate parents to get involved with school activities, and to stay in touch with their children’s progress.

    I think it would be nice if ALL parents could enjoy a similar situation. I don’t think that vouchers are the answer. From the point of view of parents, vouchers are “play money” that people don’t feel as connected to as they do the cash from their own wallets. Full tax credits for those who pay enough in taxes already, or tax credits subsidized by need-qualified private scholarships, for those who can’t afford to send their kids to school any other way, would be better, in my opinion. In my experience, it is not enough, merely to have the decision-making power to give or deny some government-determined and provided amount of money to one’s educational provider. Additionally important for the parents is the process of deciding how much of their own money can go toward their children’s education, and then paying it. Vouchers make parents into middle managers (though they’re arguably better than no vouchers). As I see it, tax credits (+ supplemental scholarships, as necessary) enable parents to be the OWNERS of their childrens’ education, which is the best situation of all.

    Do you think that Rob Reiner wants parents to own anything? From his public statements and actions, I certainly have my doubts.

  104. Do you know the one thing they all have in common? Over 10% of their enrollment have full scholarships! So those who claim that poor children would be shut out of a market based system are really just speaking out of their nether regions…

    However, this makes me wonder that if without public schools, and the sudden influx of poor students needing to be educated at these scholarship offering instutitions, will these institutions be able to continue fully funding 10% of their student body?

  105. downstater,
    Before predicting a transition period,let’s posit we get to keep a hell of a lot more of our money than the government is allowing us to now.

  106. As a member of the childless I don’t mind paying for public education. At least I know where the little monsters are for part of the day part of the year.

    Vouchers seem like a better way to go about funding public education. Injecting a little competition for students amongst schools seems like it could only help to raise standards.

    Helping poor people get acess to day care also seems like a good idea. But do it with vouchers, not state operated day care centers.

  107. Can we continue this in the top topic of H&R now? Maybe Milton Friedman will comment.

  108. Further details on Reiner’s “Jobs Creation For Public Unions Only” initiative.

    “By 2016, all program teachers must have bachelor’s degrees including 24 units in early care and education and an Early Learning Credential.”

    It just so happens that most private day care providers do not have these qualifications, yet the current private day care system is so successful that advocates are clamoring for the state to emulate it. Why do we need to create barriers so that only union members who jumped through hoops can take these new jobs?

    Hmmmmmmm Something does not compute. Perhaps it’s simply to expand the union membership forcefully?

    Continuing…

    Public colleges and universities will be funded to develop coursework and degrees in early care and education.

    Oh, so the the bill also includes actually giving funds to public colleges to develop the degree programs required for the credential, creating even more jobs for union members at taxpayer expense.

    and continuing..

    The Act includes financial aid for individuals earning these qualifications, provided they commit to teaching for a period of time that justifies the public’s investment in their training.

    So we will actually pay people to go take the “Early Learning Credential” programs that we paid the colleges to create so that these people can now qualify for a job they already do so well it made the public jealous enough to clamor for more of their services?

    Brilliant. Government in action.

    nmg

  109. Helping poor people get acess to day care also seems like a good idea. But do it with vouchers, not state operated day care centers.

    But that won’t make jobs for unionized teachers. Get with the program, son.

  110. downstater,
    Before predicting a transition period,let’s posit we get to keep a hell of a lot more of our money than the government is allowing us to now.

    Which would be fine for those in the middle classes, but what of the poor who don’t make enough money to be paying income taxes anyway and possibly also renters who do not pay property taxes? What money will they be keeping to put toward education?

    (lest anyone think otherwise, I’m not “against” vouchers at all – it is just a topic that breeds a lot of questions to me and that I think is more complicated than many suggest.)

  111. nmg, good post at 2:44. I have not a word to add or remove.

  112. nmg, good post at 2:44. I have not a word to add or remove.

    I completely concur.

    As someone who has been recently shopping for child care in California, I can say that bachelor’s degrees are extremely rare, even at pretty high quality places. It is hard to imagine the dislocation of resources necessary to meet this legislated requirement.

  113. you know what’s interesting? contrasting how and what they teach in a public school with one of them thar prep schools.

    one actually makes consessions to reality. i was rather shocked myself.

  114. Which would be fine for those in the middle classes, but what of the poor who don’t make enough money to be paying income taxes anyway and possibly also renters who do not pay property taxes? What money will they be keeping to put toward education?

    Good point. I don’t think the goal of vouchers should be to lower tax burdens. I think the goal should be to create better schools. I don’t have a problem if my tax dollars go to vouchers that the poor can use. I don’t have a problem paying for public education. I think an educated populace is just as important as roads and cops. But since I’m paying for public education then I would rather pay for a system that offers choices to parents and fosters competition amongst schools. I belive that vouchers would do this.

  115. private day care providers do not have these qualifications

    nor do the nice folks minding my girl. in fact, this is where a lot of aspiring teachers and underqualified teachers work.

    while reiner’s plan may be silly, however, state-funded daycare makes a lot of sense to me. understand people: the society you live in was built to facilitate maximal industrial production. the idealism of public schooling long ago gave way to the drive to have both parents assimilate into production for the benefit of this society’s management class — not to mention allowing those same to coopt the education of children away from the civilizing arts which made up the liberal curriculum in favor of a technical education better suited to manufacturing economic monads — turning schools into a kind of factory themselves.

    this had done much to undermine family and social relations throughout the industrial west, contributed greatly (imo) to our social dissolution for the sake of economic output and efficiency. but that aside — why would you imagine that the step of a preschool run by the management could ever be long forestalled? these extra two years of production participation by mothers is quite valuable — considering their productive lifespan is only about 40 years, for a two time mother it may represent a 10% increase in time worked by nearly half the workforce. the economic possibilities are staggering!

    get it right, people: work work work. that is your function. do not deviate. 🙂

  116. one actually makes consessions to reality.

    rather, mr dhex, we prepare the monads who are fit merely to join the production facility to join it.

    those who show a glimmer of managerial capacity are put onto enough civilization to engender a permanent separation from the managed — a disdain which they will need to drive the team.

  117. gaius, how did you arrange to have excerpts from The Wall play in my head while I was reading your post? Is it some kind of new HTML tag?

  118. Isn’t the current public school system an example of exactly how to take a service people want and run it real shitty? It seems like if you want “A quality preschool with a good curriculum and good teachers” public schools are the LAST place you’d want to go.

    Don’t confuse education with schooling.

  119. Could somebody please provide an example of a government-provided service that actually improved after part of its funding was taken away and given to a private party that “competed” agains the government service?

  120. gaius, how did you arrange to have excerpts from The Wall play in my head while I was reading your post?

    sorry, mr mikep, wasn’t me. 🙂

    to me, it all seems only more steps in the direction we’ve been headed in fits and starts since machiavelli or earlier — the usurpation of athens by sparta. if there is anything that left and right seem to agree on in the united states, it is that sparta is the rightful model of social organization.

    the spartans didn’t bother much with individuated parenting or the arts either. the weaklings left exposed to the elements to die by the state. your male kids were taken from you at age seven to go to military school; they didn’t live anywhere else until 30, and didn’t retire from the military until 60.

    sounds rather like the current system of employment, does it not?

  121. i’d say the point is moot, mr joe. the people one would hope to integrate into production by doing this are the lower class, particularly those with multiple youngsters, who cannot afford good daycare in any case and aren’t part of the daycare system now.

    reiner’s or a similar plan would coopt those people into the workforce to counterweight the decrease in working population as baby boomers retire or die — and, to the extent that lowerclassmen are often immigrants, more effectively indoctrinate the children to the twin gods of nation and production.

  122. While perhaps not true in more rural areas, I think public schools do compete to a certain extent.

    Likewise, I think that public schools = “always shitty” is a bit of a lazy generalization.

  123. joe,

    USPS package delivery comes to mind.

    It’s not a case of funding being “taken away” as much as private companies’ totally outcompeting the post office in an arena not thought lucrative enough to write into the postal monopoly legislation. Nonetheless, I find priority mail to be the best deal out there for shipping small packages. I don’t know if that shipping is merely riding in the first class service bags or if it is actually subsidized by the first class monopoly.

    I’ll try to think more on funding being actively taken away. It’s not very easy to come up with examples of government getting smaller…

  124. Could somebody please provide an example of a government-provided service that actually improved after part of its funding was taken away and given to a private party that “competed” agains the government service?

    Not off the top of my head. Can you provide one that hasn’t?

    But it doesn’t matter in this case. With my ideal voucher program schools would not compete against government run schools they would compete against one another. In my fantasy land there would be no direct government funding of schools. The government would provide vouchers that parents could use at any school they wished. The vouchers would be for a set amount depending on the grade and the cost of educating a child at that level. Any additional funds the schools needed could be raised through alumni donations, fundraisers and other creative means like vending contracts. In this system there would be standard schools that would be paid for by the voucher completely. But if you wanted to send your child to a more expensive school you would pay the difference out of pocket. Many would opt not to because the standard schools would be good schools because they would have to be to attract students.

    Let the hole poking begin.

  125. i initially thought of usps too, but then it doesn’t quite fit with joe’s challenge, because the funding cut from usps has not been redirected to ups, or fedex or dhl, or whatever.

  126. joe:

    Post office.

  127. MikeP:

    Sorry, it was yours first.

  128. engender a permanent separation from the managed
    Thanks for reminding me Gaius. I’ll do that right after I check my daughter’s homework.

    Seriously, the Spartan thing kind of reminds me of the current system, but mostly not. THe path of the jock in today’s society certainly fits the analogy though. The American system is flexible in it’s mediocrity, but that flexibility allows for a certain amount of creativity and self-discovery. I shudder to think of what I would have become had I grown up in Germany (actually I did grow up in Germany, but on a US military base, but anyway). There a child’s career path is determined at 9 years old.

    Out of curiosity, do you have any plans for the education of Babius Marius yet?

  129. Could somebody please provide an example of a government-provided service that actually improved after part of its funding was taken away and given to a private party that “competed” agains the government service?

    Okay, joe, that was a fun exercise, but I must admit I can’t. If you would please provide a list of examples where government funding was taken away and given to a private competitor at all, I could go through that list and try again.

    But that’s not what voucher programs do in any event. The essential characteristic of vouchers is that they move the government subsidy from the producer to the consumer, not from the producer to another producer.

  130. joe –

    Your “challenge” is fundamentally flawed. What you need to do is measure overall results – what is being done better, overall, once government has less responsibility to take part in it?

    Your comparison is akin to saying “Why isn’t GM building better cars than Toyota, when funding (meaning: customers purchasing products) is being transferred to Toyota?)”

    (Though honestly – CPB/NPR/PRI seems to get better the more it relies on private donors)

  131. I think I may have an example, but it’s less of a service to the public than an improvement on internal operation: internal IT services.

    at my place of employment, the budget for IT applications has been redirected to a contractor, and the staff has consequently been reduced from say, 10 to 2 people. Since the contractor charges for their IT services, the remaining two people (who are already being paid anyway) have taken on a greater amount of work in both quantity and range of IT work. (Yes, a contractor was hired and their services have been subsequently avoided like the plague)

    So, in essence, the redirected funds to the contractor resulted in a more efficient and productive internal IT staff.

    Not a perfect analogy, but worth a shot.

  132. telecommunications?

    snow removal, Owl’s Head NY (1989-1993).

    Mountain View lake dam upkeep and maintenance.

    granted, the final two are small potato(e)s.

    collective, nationalized farms are less efficient.

  133. “How cavalier you are with other people’s money. But then you obviously know better how to use it than they do, right?”

    Thanks, Rush.

  134. “Many opponents of the public school system wholeheartedly embrace a publicly funded voucher system (I am one).”

    But when the discussion turns to the one secular family in the Bible Belt town, you grow curiously silent. What good is the voucher then?

  135. ‘Over 10% of their enrollment have full scholarships! So those who claim that poor children would be shut out of a market based system are really just speaking out of their nether regions…’

    Those schools can choose the cream of the crop of the poor. What happens to the lower 90% of the poor? Let them eat cake?

  136. “When the check finally came, fully forty percent had been withheld for federal and state income tax purposes.”

    Your state has a fairly high income tax rate, and fairly low state and property tax rates. Whoop-de-doo. There’s still no evidence to support the theory that there’s a lot of families out there where the second wage-earned must go to work just to be able to pay the TAX BILL and therefore need subsidized child care.

  137. …you will soon find that learning and education were the pursuits of significant portions of the general populace, be it in the form of travelling libraries, travelling scientific displays,…the market provided all sorts of intellectual enrichment for folks be they in big cities or in rural parts – be they travelling operas, penny libraries, the penny press, etc.

    With all do respect, hakluyt, we’re talking about basic (reading, writing, math) education, not “intellectual enrichment.”

    And I, in no way, suggest that “all material and social progress started one hundred years ago.”

    I merely posit that large portions of the populations of Europe and America were poorly educated until public education became the norm.

    I don’t disagree that large numbers of people may have been well-educated back then. But a far greater percentage has basic skills today.

    I don’t disagree that large portions may still be poorly educated, but far less than 100 years ago.

    I realize that a lot of people on this board have a passionate hatred of public schools. Some hate them for the apparent waste while others hate them for the lack of quality and still others hate them for the perception of a lack of effective results.

    All of these may be valid points. And we can debate the relative effectiveness of societies that publicly invest in the educations of their children.

    But I see little room to debate the effectiveness of societies that do NOT publicly invest in the education of it’s children. Those nations that refuse such an investment are probably not worth debating.

    So show me a modern country that both invests nothing in education AND is a successful, productive country with a reasonable amount of personal freedom and open commerce, I’ll consider altering my view.

    Education is a civic responsibility because there is a bottom line ramification. Simply put, a well-educated populace economically and technologically generally outperforms a poorly educated one.

    Bitch all you want about public education, but IMHO, the fact that we have it is one of the things that makes America a strong country.

  138. playgroup organization on your block

    WTF?

    example

    Indianapolis

  139. get it right, people: work work work. that is your function. do not deviate. 🙂

    Sounds like people knowing their place.

  140. ‘Over 10% of their enrollment have full scholarships! So those who claim that poor children would be shut out of a market based system are really just speaking out of their nether regions…’

    Those schools can choose the cream of the crop of the poor. What happens to the lower 90% of the poor? Let them eat cake?

    You probably don’t care that your example requires 50% of everyone to be “poor”, but it amuses me that your apparent definition of poor resembles “anyone with below-average income”.

  141. How does education get improved without screwing the upper percentile of students?

    the upper percentiles sure got screwed from what i saw in dk….. the lower was pulled up to a good level, but to the cost of the upper. and to the cost of a highly politicized science education.

    the quality of education needs to be addressed. Otherwise we’ll have just as politicized science as the Zahles school did, but none of the positive education that’s possible there (math, language)

    can i pour anyone else a drink? grape nehis for everyone!

  142. I’m somewhat late to this discussion here. I give you some random things I’ve written about Reiner and Universal preschool:

    *The Preschool for All costs assume that only 70 percent of eligible four-year-olds will take advantage of the new preschool entitlement. Currently, 62 percent of California four-year-olds are already enrolled in preschool through private and subsidized tuition, meaning that billions would be spent to achieve an 8 percent improvement in enrollment. Many of the new children enrolled in public preschools would be low-risk children who have moved over from private preschools. A May 2005 study by a UC Berkeley-Stanford team contends that free and universal access to preschool would be more costly and could widen, not close, early achievement gaps, when compared with targeting dollars to families who have few other educational options in their neighborhoods.

    Quebec?s experience with seven years of universal preschool provides a cautionary tale for California. The program that was supposed to cost $235 million over five years now gobbles $1.7 billion every year. Yet there are not enough day cares to go around, forcing Quebec parents to put kids that have not even been conceived on a waiting list. (A Canadian likened getting a space in a day care to winning a lottery.) Half of the day care spaces are taken by the top 30 percent income bracket.

    * A November 2005 study by researchers at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed data from more than 14,000 kindergartners from the National Center for Education Statistics? Early Childhood Longitudinal. They found evidence that preschool hinders social development and created poor social behavior, such as bullying and aggression, and a lack of motivation to take part in classroom activities. Those patterns for former center-based preschoolers were the strongest among white children from high-income families and among low-income black children. The study, “How much is too much? The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Development Nationwide,” found that children who attended preschool at least 15 hours a week are more likely to display more negative social behaviors, such as acting up or having trouble cooperating, than their peers. Children from better-off families were most likely to exhibit social and emotional development problems, said UC Berkeley sociologist and co-author Bruce Fuller.

    * According to Bruce Fuller, an education professor at the University of California at Berkeley, the initiative would increase preschool enrollment by just 11 percent in the state – so $2.5 billion in taxpayer money would get an estimated 60,000 additional kids into preschool while subsidizing all preschoolers.

    And what would that money get taxpayers and students in return?

    Not much. A Goldwater Institute report states that, after 10 years, Georgia’s universal preschool program “has served over 300,000 children at a cost of $1.15 billion, and children’s test scores are unchanged.”

    In addition, historical trends in preschool are unpromising. The preschool enrollment rate of 4-year-olds has climbed from 16 percent to 66 percent since 1965. Despite the change from home education to formal early education, overall student achievement has stagnated since 1970.

    * The federal government and local bureaucracies are already mismanaging existing federal preschool programs. On the local level, a federal audit of the Los Angeles County Office of Education, one of the largest recipients of Head Start grants in the nation, found minor to severe safety, administrative and fiscal problems, such as the improper monitoring of student medication, to improperly enrolling high-income students. This mismanagement could cause Los Angeles County to lose $210 million in federal funding for preschool.

    And yet, California’s universal preschool supporters advocate giving this office control over the entire Los Angeles preschool market.

    * Reiners personal preschool war chest:

    In 1998, Californians approved Proposition 10, a state ballot initiative which added a 50-cents-a-pack cigarette tax that is allotted to early childhood development programs. Actor-director Rob Reiner, who spearheaded the Prop 10 campaign, became chairman of First 5 California, the agency created to distribute those funds. The program has been plagued with mismanagement crises since its inception. Funds are disbursed through county commissions, which are not required to limit administrative spending or adopt standard contracting and procurement policies. Of the $3.4 billion the tax has generated, only $1.3 billion has been spent?mostly to provide universal health care to children in 18 counties. To date, more than $165 million has been spent on advertisements and public relations. In the first seven years of the program, no First 5 monies have been used to give disadvantaged children an opportunity to attend preschool.

    According to a Los Angeles Daily News investigation, First 5 California has paid several public relations and marketing firms for media and advertising campaigns, including $103 million to Washington, D.C.-based GMMB, $42 million to Los Angeles-based Rogers & Associates, $6 million to Sacramento-based Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, and $14 million to Los Angeles-based Asher and Partners. Those payments included expenditures for paid media advertisements, public-relations staff to support the 58 county commissions, and $15 million that goes to more than 100 community-based organizations for public-information services. In comparison, the Los Angeles Daily News reports that the state Department of Social Services spent $2 million on the Safely Surrendered Baby campaign during that period.

  143. “but it amuses me that your apparent definition of poor resembles “anyone with below-average income”.”

    It doesn’t, but screw you anyways, you arrogant ass. If you assumed I was doing the math from his “10% scholarships” comment, you’re incorrect; I was referring to my own estimate that perhaps 10% of the poor would be QUALIFIED for such scholarships.

    Public school isn’t like college, nor should it be. Not only the smartest and best-behaved kids should be educated (or at least given the attempt).

  144. Public school isn’t like college, nor should it be. Not only the smartest and best-behaved kids should be educated (or at least given the attempt).

    All your objections rely on the spurious premise that school choice will result in vast numbers of students locked out from opportunities they now have through public school monopoly.

    Since there are few markets that fail to provide for nearly everyone involved, I would say the onus is on YOU to show that a competitive market of schools competing for funds would somehow result in fewer choices for the contituents.

    Frankly, I think your beilef is about on par with believing the world is flat, but I’m willing to be convinced.

    Give it a shot. Explain how competitive markets improve goods and services for consumers in nearly every case except for some reason with education.

    I’ll give you a little help with your concern about the “90%”.

    That 90% is currently represents 10K/year spent per head in public school. If even half that money were put into their hands, they would become a powerful consumer population and the market would respond by actually opening more schools that cater to their needs. It’s self evident and I’m baffled at your continuous assertions that somehow the market would respond by refusing to serve them. That’ idiotic.

    nmg

  145. But when the discussion turns to the one secular family in the Bible Belt town, you grow curiously silent. What good is the voucher then?

    Can you think of some examples that might actually happen? Where in the United States is there ONE SINGLE SOLITARY SECULAR FAMILY living in the middle of an overwhelming number of fundies?

  146. Could somebody please provide an example of a government-provided service that actually improved after part of its funding was taken away and given to a private party that “competed” agains the government service?

    Who gives a fuck? The goal is to increase liberty in the realm of education, not to “improve” government schools.

  147. Madpad said, “I merely posit that large portions of the populations of Europe and America were poorly educated until public education became the norm.”

    What do you mean by “education”? If by liberal education, then it is still true that a large portion of the US population remains uneducated. If you mean having appropriate life skills or skills-in-trade, those skills were a lot different back in the 19th century, on the one hand. On the other hand, again, very few people have such skills today or, having them, mastered or were even introduced to them in public school.

    The bulk of the US population does not seem to be very well educated, to begin with, so those who try to frighten us with the spectre of the “uneducated masses” that they predict would overrun the streets in the absence of a government-run education system are akin to the drug warriors who try to frighten us by speaking of a zombie-army of drug addicts who would clog out streets if we simply ended the War on Drugs. Both sets of drovers are wrong, and we are the stupid cattle they must think we are, if we buy their lines of BS.

    Nothing will ever be perfect. Somebody will always fall through the cracks. Thousands, perhaps millions are falling through the cracks of our existing system. People who oppose the privatization of education, or even the relatively weak market-based reforms such as vouchers, really need to show how the present millions, or different millions, will suffer by falling through the cracks after reform. If they can’t make a convincing case to stick with the status quo, we should give the new batters a shot.

  148. M1EK said, “‘When the check finally came, fully forty percent had been withheld for federal and state income tax purposes.’

    Your state has a fairly high income tax rate, and fairly low state and property tax rates. Whoop-de-doo. There’s still no evidence to support the theory that there’s a lot of families out there where the second wage-earned must go to work just to be able to pay the TAX BILL and therefore need subsidized child care.”

    What is a “fairly low state … rate”? You mean sales tax? 8.25% here in my neck of the woods. Although property taxes are low FOR SOME because of Prop 13 restrictions, they are high for others, and made higher because the proliferation of special-purpose “parcel taxes” that various localities keep passing. Auto registration fees are also fairly high — so high that they are significant part of state revenue, and used for a lot more than infrastructure for automobiles. There’s also a state gasoline tax, apart from the federal gas tax and state and local sales taxes. Here in my city, there is also an 8+% utility tax, levied on water, gas, electricity, garbage collection, phone, and cable tv.

    As far as evidence, check out this report:

    http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/0536e4ef1f06dccf8c01fb9f656d1521.pdf

    Yeah, the analysis is 10 years old, but looking around me I certainly see where the basic proportions of household expenses vs. taxes seem to hold for me, my neighbors, and my co-workers. Basically, it shows a 60-40 split, 60% of household income going to non-taxation, and 40% going to all forms of taxes paid by members of the household. Simple math will tell you that, if $X dollars can support the household, in the absence of taxes, then the household must make at least 1.67X to support the household and pay taxes, too. This pretty neatly dovetails with the general experience of two-earner family income: the minority earner rarely earns more than 75% of the majority earner’s income, and many minority earners don’t do nearly that well.

    Even worse, as pointed out in books such as “The Two-Income Trap” (which repeats and recently popularized the 1.75x income figure for dual-earner households over one-earner households) many two-income families go beyond the lifestyle that their 1.67X combined income would normally accommodate. They leverage their finances to the hilt and end up paying a lot of money for debt-service and like expense. Partly, I think this comes from the heightened level of consumerism that characterizes our modern life. But also, I think it is partly to do with middle-class expectations: “Hey, if we’re both working this hard and pulling in this much money, we ought to have some of the good life.”

    Back to my original point: if various governmental entities weren’t collectively extracting so much out of the households (and in middle-class households, the state and federal income taxes are a very large portion of that bite), one or both earners could afford to spend more time in the home and with the kids, so wouldn’t have as much need for subsidized daycare. Or, if they wanted to put their kids in daycare (or private school later), they could use their own money, paying for those services directly instead of through the government middleman. Instead, the Rob Reiners of the world propose more and higher taxes, to all but guarantee that parents must enter the rat race, so as to be able to pay the taxes that fund the government-controlled daycare centers that in turn raise their kids. It’s the most vicious of circles. If all you can say is “whoop-de-doo,” then you might as well be Rob Reiner, as I imagine that is all the regard he has for overburdened taxpaying families. And, lest you think I am being too hard on the fellow, just remember that he succeeded in passing a tax that depends on DRUG ADDICTION (tobacco/nicotine). What kind of sick puppy does that kind of thing, and do we want him to have any influence whatsoever on our children or their upbringing?

  149. “Simple math will tell you that, if $X dollars can support the household, in the absence of taxes, then the household must make at least 1.67X to support the household and pay taxes, too.”

    And simple logic would tell you that we were talking about schools. How much of that 40% is required to fund public schools? 1%? 2%?

  150. “Can you think of some examples that might actually happen? Where in the United States is there ONE SINGLE SOLITARY SECULAR FAMILY living in the middle of an overwhelming number of fundies?”

    South and East Texas. I live in Texas. It happens here.

    And if it makes you feel better, you could replace “one” with “some number too small to serve as a sufficient market for its own school”.

  151. “The bulk of the US population does not seem to be very well educated, to begin with,”

    Oh, come on. Really. It’s fashionable to say this, but it’s not really true.

  152. “Give it a shot. Explain how competitive markets improve goods and services for consumers in nearly every case except for some reason with education.”

    They don’t for roads. Or police. Or the military.

    And even for competitive markets, they define “consumers” as “people with enough money to be worth serving”. As usual, you’re not considering the POINT of public education, which is to educate EVEN THOSE WHO CAN’T OR WON’T PAY. Special ed kids. Poor kids. Kids whose parents are irresponsible jackasses. Etc.

  153. joe,

    Actually, I’d like to see less structured learning during school hours as well, grades K-12. What the kids learn, essentially: accept a set of priorities and goals given to them by authority figures, attach more importance to tasks assigned them by authority than tasks they choose for themselves, and jump through whatever hoops are necessary to get that gold star on their paper or that line on their resume.

  154. M1EK said, “‘The bulk of the US population does not seem to be very well educated, to begin with,’
    Oh, come on. Really. It’s fashionable to say this, but it’s not really true.”

    So how’s about you educate us, there M1EK. By what standard do you claim the bulk of us are very well educated, especially in comparison with the bulk of us in the early 19th century, say?

  155. What do you mean by “education”?

    James Anderson Merritt,

    Reading, Writing, Math.

    Then Science, higher math, some history, social studies and some arts and literature courses.

    It gets me, when you really break it down, where the bloddy fuck the “liberal education” whiners come up with just where the “liberal indoctrination” gets taught.

    History I can grudgingly give some ground on and maybe some social studies. For a further stretch, I’ll give you the lit classes.

    But unless the liberals are teaching different reading, writing and ‘rithmatic than the conservatives (we already know they’re teaching a different slant on science), I’m missing what’s so wrong with teaching these particular skills in a public school.

    Since these make up the bulk of what has to be taught to pass the ACT, SAT and all of the tests that make up the “No Child Left Behind” criteria, except for the fact that some kids can’t seem to learn them in a public school setting, I fail to fully appreciate the hostility.

    Being a teacher is a tough job these days. I’ve known many teachers and most of them have left the profession.

    Know who they criticize? The parents.

    So I put it to you that maybe our problems with public education have less to do with the capability of the teachers and more to do with a variety of OTHER factors rubbing up against our educational system.

    Chief among them…lousy parents, rotten role models, ineffective school boards, religious wackos, corrupt politicians, bullies, etc.

  156. M1EK said, “‘Simple math will tell you that, if $X dollars can support the household, in the absence of taxes, then the household must make at least 1.67X to support the household and pay taxes, too.’

    And simple logic would tell you that we were talking about schools. How much of that 40% is required to fund public schools? 1%? 2%?”

    You’re moving the goalposts, my friend. I specifically did NOT say that taxes should be reduced by ONLY the amount that funds schools. I did say that the burden of taxation is enough to draw two earners out of many households, in hopes of living a middle-class lifestyle, which, unfortunately short-changes the kids and leads to demands for things such as public daycare/preschool.

  157. Oh, and ME1K, just so you know: Here in California, state education spending approaches 50% of the entire state budget. So if the feds take 26% and the state takes 9 or 10% (as shown in the Tax Foundation report I mentioned above), then the MINIMUM amount of household income going to education, per the state’s own formula, is 4-5%. So your own estimates are way off for the struggling middle class in California, and probably several other states, too. You’re sneering at people and their opinions on the basis of assumptions that need to be better grounded in facts.

  158. How much of that 40% is required to fund public schools? 1%? 2%?

    This thread is about California, so we’ll take California, school year 2002-2003, as the example.

    $54.3 billion total education funding

    11.9 million households

    $50,220 median household income

    $54.3B/11.9M = $4,563 on education for the median household

    $4,563/$50,220 = 9.1% of income for the median household

    Is that high enough for you?

  159. Madpad said, “‘What do you mean by “education”‘?

    James Anderson Merritt,

    Reading, Writing, Math.

    Then Science, higher math, some history, social studies and some arts and literature courses.”

    OK, then by that standard, large segments of the US population are still uneducated, despite years of attending public school and even possessing a diploma or two (especially if you’re a stickler about the science, higher math, history, etc.). I would venture to guess that television has been more important than public schools in the past several decades, to acquaint people with literature, history, whatever they know of science, and art — and television does a poor job of it.

    I’ve met more than a few really unqualified (yet credentialed!) teachers in the past 20 or 30 years, but I am not blaming the teachers for this. As I have seen in my private school experience, teachers are often shackled by the hurdles of credentialing, or the regulations under which they must work in the public system.

  160. It’s only the second time I’ve seen Lisa Snell Make a comment. But the same a s the last time, people seem to carefully avoid commenting on her posts.I know I’me comming late (given that I read a couple bogs during lunch then spend the evening with friends when I can). But do both sides of any debate have to carefully avoid the more knowledgeable, and I do mean on both sides). Dpes it take the fun out of debate to put expertise on either side? And for the save every last omdividual crowd, how does targeted low-income bouchers for the poor to attend a fully privatized school system leave out the most poor (given that the “how do scholarships help the ‘alleged’ 90% of poor not qualified” [quasi quoted] not cover that contigency?}.

    .:’?/ and some other punctuation for fun.

    P.S. Working in a bank during FDIC inspection time wreaks hell on regular socializing. Even if regular means comments on the occasional blog.

  161. J.A.M.
    You missed another teacher. Most of my geography education comes form the videogame “Uncharted Waters.”

  162. Mike P, Jason L,

    Your post office example doesn’t fly. No funding was taken from the post office. The situation with USPS and FedEx et al is more akin to the current situation in education, where we have public schools funded by the public, and private schools with no public funding.

    Ironchef, government will still have 100% of the responsibility for the majority of kids, who will stay in public schools under any realistic scenario. That’s rather the problem for me, as I’m not willing to sacrifice them so that those who go to private schools can do better, on the public dime. And don’t blame me for the question – the assertion that government schools themselves would do better because of competition was brought up by others. I, personally, don’t buy it, because profit is not the motivator for the provision of public goods.

    downstater, it doesn’t sound like the IT guys who remain are actually in competition with the contractor, so much as have divided the market with them. This would not be the case with vouchers, and public schools would still be charged with doing the same work as private schools.

    Russ D, “The goal is to increase liberty in the realm of education, not to “improve” government schools.” No, lunatic fringe, the goal is improve the quality of education available to schoolkids.

  163. J.A.M.

    Please don’t misunderstand me…you make some excellent points.

    Our nation displays a pointed lack of success in it’s ability to produce a majority of well-educated people.

    But we do manage to produce a majority of basically educated people who are capable of reading, writing, and basic math. They may not be reading Dickens or Kant. But they are able to function in a society where those basic skills are there own currency. And they give most people a platform on which to acsend should they choose to do so.

    Yes, thousands and perhaps millions do fall thought the cracks. But hundreds of millions don’t.

    There are a handful of countries who – based on literacy and math score statistics – seem to do a better job than us. But the vast majority do a far worse job than the U.S.

    A quick look at the UNESCO site on recent Illiteracy Statistics show that The U.S. and Europe far outpace every other region in the world.

    Things like this need some perspective. As the Arab States, Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia not only have far higher rates of illiteracy but far more disparity between genders, I don’t think our system – by comparison, of course – is as bad as you and others assert.

    No it ain’t great. But I submit that a system that gives most of it’s people the basics skills, is far better than the current alternatives in place.

    With all due respect, you offer no proof that a privatised model would be any better than our current system.

    The only thing you offer is supposition based on a perception that I feel is probably based on an abundance of anger combined with a lack of facts (or perspective).

    I don’t think you offer a compelling reason for chucking what we have in favor of a system that has, as it’s only advantage, the virtue of having never been tried in the modern world. Thus it has no tested disadvantages.

  164. James Anderson Merrit,

    The bulk of the white population in the U.S. was more literate in the early 19th century than it is today.

  165. Hakluyt,

    There’s a word for that assertion….crap.

    Go to The National Center For Education Statistics at http://nces.ed.gov/naal/historicaldata/illiteracy.asp

    There you’ll find a chart of U.S. illiteracy rates from 1870 to 1979.

    Here’s a nice little quote: “For the later part of this century the illiteracy rates have been relatively low, registering only about 4 percent as early as 1930. However, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, illiteracy was very common. In 1870, 20 percent of the entire adult population was illiterate, and 80 percent of the black population was illiterate.”

    I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that the illiteracy rates from the early 1800s were vastly better than 1870.

  166. Russ D, “The goal is to increase liberty in the realm of education, not to “improve” government schools.” No, lunatic fringe, the goal is improve the quality of education available to schoolkids.

    Can’t we agree that both goals are valuable and attainable? And that the current system does poorly at achieving either of them?

    nmg

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