Opening the Preschool Door to Nationalization

By Hoar, William P. | The New American, April 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

Opening the Preschool Door to Nationalization


Hoar, William P., The New American


ITEM: President Barack Obama, in announcing his $3.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2015 on March 4, called for more federal "investment" in education, among other priorities. While visiting the Powell Elementary School in Washington, D. C., he said, "My budget," said the president, making a reference to the children gathered for the announcement, is "designed with their generation and future generations in mind."

ITEM: The New York Times for March 5, in an article entitled "Obama's Budget Is Populist Wish List and an Election Blueprint, " reported that the president "again proposed spending $76 billion over 10 years to help states provide high-quality preschool education to all 4-year-olds, given studies showing the lifelong benefits of early education, and to pay for it by raising tobacco taxes."

ITEM: The editors of the New York Times, while understanding the budget as written will not pass, obviously wished it would in many regards--praising the president for trying to "break free of the austere budget caps demanded by Republicans in 2011." The March 5 editorial also hailed the president's "proposal to help states provide pre-school for all 4-year-olds," describing that as "one of the most important tools for reducing income inequality. "

Correction: When it is all said and done, it is the politicians who say it and the taxpayers who do it. In this case, however, even what is being said is dubious. The president, for example, claims that the public investment in schools has been "allowed to wither," which is simply not the case.

Rather, what is actually being done by the federal government is the spending of additional money that we don't have --each one of the children being used as props for the president's recent budget remarks (as well as every other citizen) currently owes more than $55,000 for his share of the National Debt--a figure than has increased, on average, by $2.73 billion daily since September 30, 2012.

The idea that the federal government has been operating on an "austerity" budget, as claimed by the New York Times and the current resident of the White House, is, to say it as charitably as possible, an awful misuse of the truth. The federal government spent $2.98 trillion in 2008; the president's proposed budget for next year would again spend all of that--plus yet another $1 trillion.

Despite the fact that education, constitutionally and traditionally (until relatively recently in our history), has been a matter for the states and local governments, that has changed. And the change has not been for the better.

So the president wants to hit us with more of the same--but even harder. Not everybody has been fooled. Representative Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, recently oversaw the issuance of a critical report about federal programs on education (as well as poverty and housing), using facts, not wishful thinking.

Some of the findings concerning education have been summarized by Joy Pullman of the Heartland Institute. The analysis was prepared as a counter to the president's "renewed push for further redistributive taxes and social welfare." The committee urged "overhauling social spending, including $94.4 billion every year in funds for education programs such as Head Start (birth through preschool programs), K-12 funds aimed at poor children, and Pell Grants for college students."

The report, as noted by research fellow Pullman, pointed to the reality

   that many still prefer to ignore:
   "inflation-adjusted spending per
   pupil has nearly tripled over the past
   four decades with largely stagnant
   achievement to show for it." Not
   only does federal education spending
   typically accomplish nothing, it
   may even harm kids. The report notes
   research showing daycare vouchers
   aimed at getting single moms into the
   workforce can actually end up making
   them worse moms and their kids
   less healthy; Head Start may actually
   make some kids worse at math; and
   for every $ 1 they get in Pell Grants,
   some colleges increase tuition $4. … 

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