LA Times rejects preschool initiative

Proposition 82, the preschool initiative on California’s June 6 ballot, is so poorly designed it could do more harm than good, editorializes the Los Angeles Times, which urges a “no” vote.

The initiative would set up a cumbersome bureaucracy and place it under the state Department of Education, which has done a disappointing job with K-12 schools. It would make taxpayer-funded preschool available to middle-class and rich families, which can easily afford it. It could worsen the teacher shortage by draining public schools of qualified teachers. And though the initiative allows private preschools to become part of the system, it’s written in such a way to favor programs at public schools.

It’s not clear, writes the Times, that preschool helps disadvantaged children “more than, say, full-day kindergarten, or smaller class sizes, or family literacy classes.” But if Prop. 82 passes, all the money will go for preschool — mostly to pay for children whose parents already are sending them to preschool.

Eugene Volokh points out the requirement that all preschool teachers hold college degrees — with no evidence that the degree makes a difference — may prove discriminatory against Hispanics and blacks under “disparate impact” theory.

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