SF plans college accounts for kindergarteners

Despite a $483 million budget deficit, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to start a city-funded college savings account for kindergarteners in public school. From the Chronicle:

The deposits would be small – $50 to start, $100 for lower-income children — but the hope is that they will pay huge dividends, teaching students about saving and budgeting while forging the conviction that a college education is within reach.

The plan is to include all public-school kindergarteners by the third year, with funding help from corporations and nonprofits. Parents will be offered matching funds to encourage them to save their own money.

A study by the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis found children with modest college savings are seven times more likely to go to college. Of course, parents who set aside money for college are likely to be different from parents who don’t. It’s not clear that unearned savings will produce the same result.

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  1. hardlyb says:

    So it’s just about money, not where the money comes from? I doubt it.

    Making public money available for college tuition has ensured that the price of college has skyrocketed, so I confidently predict that this won’t help. And I am very glad that I do not live in the city.

  2. “A city-funded college savings account for kindergarteners” will cost taxpayers dearly. The problem lies in the little word “for”. “For” is a statement of intention. Any financial asset which a government holds will tempt insiders such as public-sector employee organizations and financial managers. Hawaii saw this play out in the legislature’s raid on special funds, which, despite explicit language in the enabling language that established the funds that prohibited their use to cover operating budget shortfalls, went to pay the operating budget of the Hawaii DOE. The Legislature, the Board of Education, and the DOE administration refuse to restrain demands by insiders upon taxpayers. This will happen to the “college” fund and any other asset insiders can steal.

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I heard that children with books in their home do better in school and have a higher college attendance rate.

    I therefore decree that every home in America shall have, at public expense, 200 copies of the Betty Crocker cookbook!

  4. Cranberry says:

    Well, you know…with 200 copies of the same cookbook, the family could easily sell 199 copies of the book, at flea markets and on ebay. The added income might improve the children’s performance in school.

    It would also improve family fitness, as walking to flea markets lugging 199 cookbooks is much more aerobic than sitting at home watching the ball game. Win/Win!

  5. Making public money available for college tuition has ensured that the price of college has skyrocketed

    Asserted, but not demonstrated.

  6. So, what if the kid wants to go to welding school instead of college? Or what if he wants to use the money to start a business? Will “his” account be useable for those purposes? Doesn’t sound like it.

    The worship of college in this country increasingly is reaching the level of idolatry.

  7. Michael: I actually know of programs which do/did give books – usually of dubious value, in terms of content – to families, based on that correlation. And if they simply use the books to hold up the tv and video game console… This kind of “thinking” has been happening for decades. The obvious conclusion is that the ed world is simply oblivious to the difference between correlation and causation.

  8. (Hardlyb): “Making public money available for college tuition has ensured that the price of college has skyrocketed.”
    (Mike): “Asserted, but not demonstrated.”

    Mike, what would you consider a demonstration? Across industries subsidized goods are over-consumed. The “public goods” arguments for education subsidy are weak, and they weaken as students get older. Adults can read on their own, or learn on the job.

    I recommend Ivar Berg’s Education and Jobs: The Great Training Robbery.

  9. The best thing the city could do for the youth of San Francisco would be to demonstrate mature, adult leadership by not coming up with a new spending program when the city is a half a billion in the hole. Sadly, I doubt that would ever happen…

  10. It’s not clear that unearned savings will produce the same result.

    Maybe not clear to you but history tells us it will be an epic fail.

  11. I have no problem with a savings account match for low-income families to encourage them to set money aside for their children’s future. But this idea of making it available to all kindergartners regardless of familial income is a waste of taxpayer dollars at a time when the city can ill afford it.


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  2. […] here’s San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, who despite his city’s large budget deficit wants to establish and fund college savings […]