Friday, February 01, 2008

The Pre-K question

The outside assessment of Tennessee's Pre-K program has been completed, and the results are mixed to say the very least. Every major survey category in the report seemed to show at least one category in which those who did not attend Pre-K managed to outscore those who did. By no means do these results give the impression that Pre-K is completely ineffective, but we are equally left with the impression that there is simply not enough evidence to support a massive State expenditure into this effort.

Governor Phil Bredesen has made Pre-K the great project of his second term in office, and has done so at what could be great political cost. This is the same man who is now complaining about a revenue shortage (there is no deficit, just less money than Phil and the Gang were expecting) after the opposition warned that such a shortage would occur since the Governor's schemes for raising taxes were not reliable and were constitutionally questionable to say the least. Republican and conservative arguments against the Bredesen tobacco tax hike and threats by Tennessee Commissioner Reagan Farr to post revenuers at the borders-an act which was not only unconstitutional but which also failed-were dismissed as partisan. Now the promised revenue shortage is here and the Governor just wants to spend more money.

Many liberals and Democrats want State-funded mandatory Pre-K for children. That means that parents who choose to stay home with their children rather than both parents entering the workforce won't have the option of being the primary educating force in their child's early developing years. Instead, the primary educator will be the State of Tennessee.

"We're from the government, and we're here to indoctrinate your children."

I had some pre-Kindergarten education when I was very young, but I would be willing to bet the ranch that in my case that didn't impact my present abilities. Instead, I had a mother who took the time not only to read to me but to teach me to read before I entered Kindergarten-by the time I started school, I already knew how to read and was reading ahead of many of my classmates. No one can instruct a child as well as an interested parent.

The classic liberal retort is "what about the parents who aren't interested, or who won't do their job." For roughly half-a-century, this country has embraced the liberal social model of economics and education. With both parents now working outside the home on a regular basis in many situations, and with only one parent as the head of household in many others, children are often left in the hands of teachers and third-party caregivers. Liberals are right that economics have forced this upon many American families today, but they fail to see the cause-and-effect of their own practical policies and mentality. By encouraging both parents to work in the days when it wasn't necessary, the amount of disposable cash in the economy increased, and so did overall wages. Prices increased, and the value of a dollar in terms of what it would actually buy decreased dramatically. Eventually, working outside the home wasn't a matter of choice for many people-both parents had to do it out of necessity, or lose everything in some cases. What began as a movement of liberation has become a social trend resulting in throw-away children and broken families.

I'm not saying that women shouldn't work outside the home, so militant feminists can call off the dogs-not that they will. I do believe, however, that children are better when one parent (whether male or female) is home with them during their formative years. We are now discouraging that as a society, and the social end-result may not be good for the future.

I'm not sure I want my tax dollars contributing to what I see as a serious social ill.



At Friday, February 01, 2008 12:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I could have invented a rationale for how a labor glut could drive up wages, but you did it. Impressive gymnastics completing the circle in that logic!


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