On Thursday, the Center for American Progress released a grand plan to provide pre-school for the Obama Administration. I’ll pause for a moment while you make the requisite jokes about the missing Obama pre-school transcripts. The plan outlines how the administration can provide free pre-school. According to an article by Phillip Elliott at CNS News, subsidies for families with younger children would increase to an average of $7200 per child and the number of students in early Head Start Programs would double.
The article states: “Under the center's plan, Washington would match states' spending on these preschool programs for 3- or 4-year-olds at an average rate of $10,000 per child — enough to cover full-day programs. The program would be phased in over five years, starting first with low-income students who, studies show, benefit the most from pre-kindergarten programs. Children ages 3 and 4 would be eligible to attend preschool for free if they come from a family of four earning $46,100 or less. For families making more than that, the rates would be adjusted based on income.”
Sounds terrific, doesn’t it? Who could possibly object to helping poor children receive an early education? Only the most heinous, most vicious one percenter would deny children such things as free pre-school and Head Start, right?
The benefits of early childhood education are boundless, and no sane person would argue that. But no sane person would argue that such things should remain under the aegeis of the federal government. That is madness. Why, you ask?
Well, to begin when all of the federal benefits are added up, the effort would cost 119.9 billion dollars over the next 10 years. Last time I checked, the Full Faith and Credit of the United States Government was not sufficient to put a 7-11 taquito on layaway, let alone finance early childhood education for everyone.
And the track record for Head Start is not exactly stellar. In an article from the Heritage Foundation, Lindsey Burke notes that Head Start, at present is running the taxpayers about eight grand per child. Burke observes that after 48 years of operation and 180 billion dollars in tax dollars the program has had a negligible effect on the education of the children it ostensibly serves. A report by Health and Human Services no less, reveals that the program has not delivered on its promises, and has in fact federal studies indicate that the program has had an adverse impact on peer-relations and math abilities. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Head Start is only one of 69 federal preschool programs already being utilized under the auspices of 10 different federal agencies. Those agencies include HHS, USDA, HUD and the GSA. The current cost is $25 billion per annum.
It would be one thing if the money was spent on a program that achieved its objectives. But clearly the government has managed to make early childhood education the scholastic equivalent of Solyndra: a quantum singularity that absorbs money, time and possibly even light and matter, while giving nothing in return.
This new program promises to be yet another hazard on the country’s fiscal event horizon. More non-existent money spent on a program designed to do nothing but guarantee a cadre of federal bureaucrats job security until their pensions kick in.
The parents of these children would be far better served by giving them school vouchers and allowing them the opportunity of choosing where they will send their offspring to learn their ABC’s and the colors of the rainbow. Instead, we are being presented with more paperwork and worse yet another tab for a meal that has yet to be delivered by our federal waiter or waitress. Or waitperson. Server. Or whatever.