To my surprise, the LA Times editorializes strongly against actor/director Rob Reiner’s universal pre-school initiative. Reiner proposes raising $2.3 billion by raising taxes on incomes of more than $400,000 a year. The Times favors a surtax to bail out the general fund, not a series of initiatives passing special taxes for special purposes.
About 280,000 of California’s 4-year-olds already go to preschools, either privately or publicly funded. The initiative seeks to raise that to 80%, while putting most children in publicly funded facilities. So in order to get an additional 24% of 4-year-olds enrolled, the initiative would raise state funds to pay for close to double that number who would be in preschool even without the assistance.
High-quality, high-cost, full-day programs starting well before the age of four make a significant and lasting difference for children from poor families, research shows. Providing effective programs for these children would be worth the taxpayers’ money. There’s no reason taxpayers should subsidize half-day programs for middle-class four-year-olds.