California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes the universal preschool initiative, Prop. 82, saying it would raise taxes. More surprisingly, notes Dan Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee, the liberal John Burton, the former Senate leader, has come out against the measure. Weintraub quotes from Burton’s statement:
Without any income tests the plan would help wealthy and middle class families who already take advantage of preschool, but not reach those who need it most: poor, disadvantaged and English learning children;
K-12 faces a shortage of qualified teachers. Prop. 82 offers more competition that could keep teachers out of classrooms;
The initiative would pay more per pupil for a few hours of preschool than many K-12 schools get for a whole day;
Prop. 82 ties up a resource stream that should go to the general fund for a variety of important state programs.
Private preschools are wary of Prop. 82, reports the San Jose Mercury News.
Some Montessori schools fear Proposition 82, dubbed the Preschool for All Act, would lead to state standards that could compromise their teaching methods and mixed-age classrooms. Faith-based preschools say they would be at a competitive disadvantage because the measure wouldn’t fund schools that offer religious instruction. Others worry a requirement that teachers earn a bachelor’s degree would drive them out of business.
Research shows that preschool teachers with a four-year degree are no better than teachers with a two-year degree, so the higher cost won’t lead to higher quality. And if the Prop. 82 teachers unionize, which is likely, private preschools will be better off refusing government money and trying to survive by focusing on children under four, who aren’t old enough for “free” preschool.