Preskool Math: 200-400 percent return on investment unlikely

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Proposition 82, the Meathead's universal preschool plan for California, appears to be headed for approval in next week's election, but before class is dismissed, the Reason Foundation takes a closer look at this ballot initiative's central justification: the RAND Corporation's March 2005 study The Economics of Investing in Universal Preschool Education in California. In their study Is Universal Preschool Beneficial?, San Jose State University profs Christopher F. Cardiff and Edward Stringham critique the "deeply and fatally flawed" RAND study for assuming unseen benefits, downplaying costs based on phantom data, ignoring contrary evidence, and best of all projecting that Prop 82 will generate "between $2 and $4 in benefits for every dollar expended." Here's a more grim version of the same story:

Where today's non-government preschools, many of them family-owned and operated, constitute 45 percent of the market, the RAND study predicts that most private providers will disappear if the government assumes responsibility for preschool. The vast variety of preschools found in communities across the state would be replaced by a monolithic, one-size-fits-all system designed, controlled, and funded by a statewide bureaucracy—the same bureaucracy that already fails students at the K-12 level. The options available in the private preschool market would wither, with almost 90 percent of children going to state-operated facilities and 10 percent going to private schools, mostly catering to the elite.

Reason's study here. The original RAND study here. Rob Reiner's decline and fall here. Reason's previous raspberries to the Meathead here, here, here, here, and here.

NEXT: You're So Vain (If You're a Plato-like Hierarchalist)

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  1. I’d hate to be the astute, thinking elected official in California that’s bold enough to speak up about this pedagogical boondoggle. That person will automatically be painted as the Ebeneezer Scrooge of Pre-School Possibilities (“THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!”), so Meathead and the Dems automatically win the battle, even if they lose the eventual economic and educational war.

    I expect this to become a part of the DNC’s national platform if it flies in Cali (wasn’t Gore for this kind of crap?), with the RNC playing the “we can do it bigger, better and more conservative” card in order to avoid being tarbrushed as the Great Satans of State Mandated Education.

    If that’s the case, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in some urban areas, as small-scale day care has been a path for entrepreneurship and self-employment for many working class minorities in many large cities. That means the DNC and it’s elitist class of self-righteous educated know-it-alls like Gore, Hillary, Lieberman and Obama will be in the position of telling said new entrepreneurs “We’re going to destroy your small day care businesses for the greatest good.”

    If the Libs keep pushing this kind of anti-choice, Stalinist, entrepreneur-destroying programming, Blackwell and Steele are shoe-ins among minority voters …

  2. I’m so glad my little one will be out of pre-school range before they pass this in Washington State– and it will come up here, and it will pass– along with every other dumb idea floated and passed in California.

  3. BAI-

    If it becomes a national issue, the GOP will insist that they can do it better by sending tax dollars to organized religion and/or big business.

  4. Just think of the motto. “Fail children early and often.”

  5. BAI – great point about driving the small day care businesses out of business.

    When I used to ride the bus to work, there were a couple of parents on there who would talk about the sitters they used for their children. They were usually single moms who would take on 10 children or so for a very reasonable price and take care of them all day while the folks went to work. I heard nothing but good things about those kinds of entrepreneurs and even other parents getting interested in their services due to the general chit-chat that sometimes occurs while riding the bus.

    This top-down, elitist, statist bullshit makes me so angry. I don’t see how it isn’t obvious that all but the most downtrodden, mentally or physically handicapped, etc people are not hurt by these stupid social programs, not helped! The unintended consequences alone should be enough to deter this kind of crap.

  6. It just occurred to me that kindergarten IS preschool. I mean WTF, day care got a new name and now nannystate needs to be involved? xingjiao shenma?

  7. Thoreau, totally agree.

    “I’m so glad my little one will be out of pre-school range before they pass this in Washington State”

    Yep, crap like this is why I dread the day I ever have kids. I’ll be damned if some Welfare State Brownshirt like Rob Reiner or Al Gore is going to tell me how to raise MY kids, especially when Big Govt Libs usually can’t control their own damned idiot offspring.

  8. I couldn’t imagine how we could possibly do more to deter kids from thinking freely than we already are now.

    How about No Child Left Unindoctrinated for a motto?

  9. At least it’s not manditory. Yet.

  10. Lowdog, good points. Considering the number of such operators nationwide, there aren’t that many horror stories regarding child abuse, etc. to justify detroying their operations. Plus, from what I’ve seen, usually these small operators have a pre-existing relationship with the parents of the children, either as friends, acquaintances or relatives that may exist for years prior to establishing the day care relationship.

    Of course, the Reiners and Gores will trot out the old bugaboo about how state institutionalization “guarantees” better “professionalism” through “certification” and “registration”, as if big government can’t be gamed by a Michael Jackson or John Wayne Gacy type with an Associates or Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Development.

    Anecdotally speaking, most of the horror stories I see on the evening news here in Central Ohio with children and teens involve members of the NEA and AFT in public schools, not private operators of day care (the Mifflin High School gang rape of a mentally disabled girl, that was covered up by Columbus Public School offficials and made national news, comes to mind).

  11. Threadjack: I just ran across a great site for Dave W. – A Call for More Scientific Truth in Product Warning Labels. Here’s a few samples:

    • Warning: This Product Warps Space and Time in Its Vicinity.
    • Warning: This Product Attracts Every Other Piece of Matter in the Universe, Including the Products of Other Manufacturers, with a Force Proportional to the Product of the Masses and Inversely Proportional to the Distance Between Them.
    • Caution: The Mass of This Product Contains the Energy Equivalent of 85 Million Tons of TNT per Net Ounce of Weight.
  12. And to think I sent my little ones to the local jewish preschool. What was wrong with me?

    Forgive me Rob! Forgive!! I was thinking of my own selfish needs, but I did it for MY children!

  13. It’s endorced by the California Teacher’s Association! Is there anything worse than organized teachers? If organized teachers are for it, that’s pretty much all I need to know. …I’d sooner vote for the Scientologists.

  14. Meanwhile, Proposition 83 — which would require Reason to make Hit & Run display legible-sized type in Firefox browsers — is clearly headed for defeat.

  15. Me Me —

    Then again, you could just change the default font size in your Firefox browser.

  16. I expect this to become a part of the DNC’s national platform if it flies in Cali (wasn’t Gore for this kind of crap?), with the RNC playing the “we can do it bigger, better and more conservative” card […]

    Heh. Connecticut Governor (Governess? 8^) M. Jodi Rell is already beating the preschool drum (and has been for nigh on two years now):
    http://www.ct.gov/governorrell/cwp/view.asp?Q=276898&A=1720

    JMJ

  17. Yes, D.A. Ridgely. The onus should be on the user to rectify a site’s bad coding.

  18. The war on individualism continues. The point of these programs is to socialize our tots into group-thinking dimwits as early as possible. If the kids spend time at home or in private businesses they may hear ideas that aren’t sponsored by the state. The last thing Meathead wants is for a child to hear that the individual is more important than the whole.

  19. Why can’t Reiner open up his own fucking wallet and open a daycare center for those who can’t afford one otherwise?

  20. Why can’t Reiner open up his own fucking wallet and open a daycare center for those who can’t afford one otherwise?

    That’s just crazy talk. Don’t you know that the only way to show true compassion is through the coerced actions of others?

    Soon, your silly, individualistic, distinctiveness will be added to the collective.

  21. free market, there – me me – head elsewhere. no problems with this citizen’s firefox.

    you’re welcome to take yer business elsewhere.

    some of the “might makes right” types would certainly agree. unless it affects them, of course.

  22. I will be absolutely astonished if this fails to pass. After all, IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN!!!

    And it’s not something that divide along party lines. Everyone wants what’s best FOR THE CHILDREN!!! So it’s perfect BIPARTISANSHIT.

    And, finally, Florida’s had this since 2002. Nobody in Kolleefawneea is going to want Fla to appear to be more progressive, surely.

    If it becomes a national issue, the GOP will insist that they can do it better by sending tax dollars to organized religion and/or big business.

    thoreau, that seems to be what’s happening in FL.

  23. Thanks for the labels, PL. They are funny and true.

  24. Me Me

    Ctrl + “+” will enlarge text in Firefox

  25. Dave, my favorite one was this one:

    Public Notice as Required by Law: Any Use of This Product, in Any Manner Whatsoever, Will Increase the Amount of Disorder in the Universe. Although No Liability Is Implied Herein, the Consumer Is Warned That This Process Will Ultimately Lead to the Heat Death of the Universe.

  26. Having just moved to California and enrolled my daughter in pre-school, I really can’t see what ‘problem’ this proposition is supposed to solve. Pre-schools of all types seem to be easy to find and reasonably priced .. so why do we need government control and subsidies exactly?

  27. “Having just moved to California and enrolled my daughter in pre-school, I really can’t see what ‘problem’ this proposition is supposed to solve.”

    More (govt) jobs for educators, more (govt) jobs for beuracracy, and the right to dictate curriculum. It’s just another excuse to siphon money and get ahold of your childs mind at an earlier age for indoctrination.

  28. …so why do we need government control and subsidies exactly?

    It takes a kollektiv to raise a child…

  29. BAI – another good point about how they’ll claim it’s better because the people who work there will need to be liscenced, etc, but that then somebody can game the system by simply getting liscenced.

    The smaller operators have to deal with people that will know them more intimately, not to mention that they mainly get clients by word of mouth.

    As usual, a group of individuals making their own (mostly) rational choices seems to have all kinds of safeguards built-in that no top-down organisation could forsee to install.

  30. Libertarians need to get out in force and vote yes on Prop 82. After it passes, it may be the last straw for the very wealthy, causing them to move out of the state, taking their income tax dollars with them. The establishment of a huge new educational bureaucracy will drain even more money from state government, and get us to a point where the state spends 2/3 or even more of each budget on education. It already spends 50%. California state government is broken. Only bankruptcy and default can trigger a fix. So vote yes on 82 and help the state government collapse a little quicker!

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