Not to be harsh, but how would Rhode Island Kids Count’s pitch for more money for public pre-K programs be any different if it were nothing more than a front organization for teachers unions?
“We know that investments in high-quality early learning are among the best investments you can make,” said Elizabeth Burke Bryant, executive director of Rhode Island Kids Count, a state policy and advocacy group committed to children’s well-being. “The question is one of scale. In the past, we have had to patch together a system of programs that don’t serve all of our kids, especially those from low-income communities.”
No, Ms. Burke Bryant “we” don’t “know” that. Brookings has found that simply giving families money has better effects for their children than putting that money toward early childhood programs. Meanwhile, Heritage has found that government pre-K and preschool programs have no effect on academic results and may, in fact, harm children academically and behaviorally.
Both results can be explained, in part, by the possibility that subsidized early childhood programs do more harm by drawing children away from healthier arrangements with their families or other close-knit groups than they help by placing children from unhealthy environments under the protective wings of government and its helpers. One could ask for no better evidence of the soulless flaws in the government-centric mentality than the metrics and solutions Kids Count deploys for its argument:
Research has shown that the first five years of a child’s life are crucial to his or her success. And yet Rhode Island spends much less on early childhood — $9,641 per child in a state-sponsored pre-K class compared to $20,000 per child in a K-12 class. …
Kids Count, in its report, offers several recommendations to improve both access to early-childhood classes and the quality of those classes:
Pay teachers in Rhode Island’s pre-k programs more money. Pre-K teachers, all of whom are state-certified, earn an average of $43,458 in community childcare settings compared to the average elementary school teacher, who makes $66,000. Sixty percent of family childcare workers earn $30,000 or less a year.
Put aside the obvious response that public school teachers in general are overpaid and consider the mindless devotion to giving a special interest group more money. There is no discussion of what pre-K programs would use the money for if they had twice as much. There is no comparison of the tasks involved in such programs or the training necessary to conduct them. What concerns RI Kids Count is that the government isn’t taking twice as much taxpayer money to pour into a school environment of questionable value.
But that’s how it works when we allow government to become the state’s key industry and the locus of all of its economic development plans.