The cost of free pre-school

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.

About Joanne


  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    We need a law that allows wealthy folk to pay more taxes than the law requires. The one who gives most would have his name on the state seal for a year.

  2. lindenen says:

    Wasn’t there a recent study which found that kids who had this pre-school seemed to not get any improvement and behaved worse than other kids. Damn. Where was that link?

  3. “…research shows.”

    Are there any links to peer-reviewed research?

    From the LA Times editorial:

    “Preschool can have enormous benefits for disadvantaged children, through early exposure to English and improved readiness for kindergarten classes that are increasingly rigorous.”

    Rigorous Kindergarten. It sounds like an oxymoron. Our town went to a full-day kindergarten a few years ago, but I would never call it rigorous by any stretch of the imagination. Exactly what knowledge and skills are required for Kindergarten? I hate articles where I have to accept huge assumptions on face value.

    I can see how early exposure to English would be good for ESL kids, but what, exactly, are they doing in these preschools? Instead of fixing really bad curricula and very low expectations, perhaps they try to achieve improvement by starting them really early. Can anyone say “Whole Language” or “Balanced Literacy”?

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    I’m willing to believe that high-quality preschool programs make a significant and lasting difference for at-risk kids.

    The big jump is assuming that the programs that would be set up for those kids (using *our money*) would be high quality programs. The very same at-risk kids end up going to bad public kindergartens; why would we believe that their public preschools would be better?

  5. nailsagainsttheboard says:

    Parents need to raise their children, not the ‘Village’…..

    The preposterous ‘universal preschool’ proposal by Meathead reminds me of Castro’s wonderful universal health care of Cuba…Shut up and direct!

  6. Mike in Texas says:

    Joanne wrote:

    There’s no reason taxpayers should subsidize half-day programs for middle-class four-year-olds

    But she seems to find plenty of reasons why taxpayers should subsidize school for upper class students all day every day.

  7. Ross the Heartless Conservative says:

    So you are against funding the public school system? Or it should only be for poor kids?

  8. rouxdsla says:

    Headstart is failing. What makes these idiots think throwing more money down the drain will help?

  9. Mike in Texas says:


    Being a public school teacher I’m all for funding public schools. I was merely pointing out that Joanne is against funding preschool for middle class kids, but all for providing charter and vouchers for other kids. The statements seem to me to contradict one another.

  10. Uncle Rob loves the kids. He’s going to Heaven when he dies. I really believe that. First, he successfully slaps a $.50 tax on cigarettes, an item purchased overwhelmingly by poor people. Of course, Uncle Rob doesn’t want those poor people to be ruining their health, so he hopes he can tax them out of their nasty habit. (After all, those poor people are too stupid to know what’s good for them.) If and when that happens, Uncle Rob will find that his government kiddie program doesn’t have any funds. Now he’s being smart again. He’s taxing evil rich people, such as himself, so the kids can go to pre-school, and we all know that education starts in the pre-school and not in the home. God bless you, Uncle Rob, in your never-ending crusade to tax both ends of the income spectrum so that government may save us from ourselves.