Wednesday, February 13, 2013

No funding for pre-kindegarten

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy issued this statement opposing state funding for pre-kindegarten:


by Forest Thigpen
President, Mississippi Center for Public Policy

The Senate has passed and the House is considering bills that would, for the first time, provide state funding for pre-kindergarten programs from the state budget. Mississippi Center for Public Policy opposes state-funded pre-kindergarten.

We admire the passion of the sponsors of these bills, and we share their desire to see the children of our state succeed in life. But this is the wrong step to take.

Today's arguments for pre-kindergarten are the same as they were for kindergarten 30 years ago. And, based on the outcomes, kindergarten does not appear to have improved academic achievement. For example, the average ACT score in Mississippi is the same as it was 20 years ago!

Even if this starts on a small scale, this program will grow, as all government programs do. When government programs are created, they sometimes appear to have a positive initial impact, but when they prove ineffective, the tendency is not to say, “We messed up,” but to say, “We simply didn’t go far enough.” Then we expand to the next step, until we see it is not working either. And so we expand again.

Some advocates, including one of the state’s largest newspapers, have said their goal is a “comprehensive and compulsory early childhood education” system. Apparently, they believe a state where no four-year-olds are at home with their mothers (or fathers) is a good thing. Apparently they believe all parents are incapable of teaching their children what they need to know, presuming “the professionals” can do better. To be clear, the bills before the legislature do not do that, but it is important to remember that government programs rarely shrink and almost always grow beyond the imaginations of their originators. When combined with President Obama’s call for universal pre-K, these bills would set us on that course.

From a practical standpoint, we have to ask, “Why would the legislature establish a new competitor for education funding when it is having trouble satisfying the requests of our K-12 system, our community colleges, and our senior colleges?” The Senate bill would have a $66 million annual impact on the state budget in the third phase of the program, rising from $16 million in its first year. Fixing our K-12 system should be accomplished before adding more responsibility to the Department of Education.

Even if legislators could stomach the hit on the state budget, funding pre-K is ineffective in the long run. In almost every study of large-scale early childhood programs, the results have been found wanting. The children might start kindergarten stronger, but the benefits fade out by the third grade, if not earlier.

We know there are parents who do too little to prepare their children for life. However, every time the government takes on a role best suited for the family, it undermines the principle even further that the family is the building block of society and parents are responsible for raising their children. It furthers the notion that government is our savior, the solver of all problems.

We stand today in the early childhood education debate where we stood in the poverty debate in 1960. Now, as then, families and churches aren’t meeting all the needs, so the assumption is that government must step in. That’s the wrong step to take. Yes, poverty programs solved some short-term problems, but they created the long-term perception that government was going to take care of people, inadvertently leading to more single-parent families. And the poverty rate remains virtually unchanged.

Creating yet another program to relieve parents of their responsibility – even if that result is an unintended consequence – would make the problem even worse for future generations. Let’s not overstep and create programs that may solve problems for a few but create more and deeper problems in the process.

While it is tempting to believe government funded pre-K will help families and single parents, the long, sad legacy of most government programs is that they keep people poor, destroy families, and harm the very children they were intended to help. There are better ways to prepare our children for a bright future, and as we have been doing for twenty years, MCPP stands ready to help.

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy purchased distribution rights on Jackson Jambalaya.


Anonymous said...

This is not Mayberry, 1960. Over 85% of 4 year olds are not at home with their mothers. They are in daycare or preschool. So instead of the very tired argument that kids should be at home with their mothers, why don't we get real and admit the overwhelming majority of them are in daycare or preschool already?
We are one of the only states in America that doesn't have PreK. I remember back when Kindergarten was about to be introduced. The exact same arguments against it were made then. Can anyone honestly look at a 5 1/2 year old child and argue that they shouldn't be at school?
I have 3 kids. All of them have been through PreK and I witnessed the benefits right before our eyes. Language, arts, science, basic math. They went in to Kindergarten fully prepared.
Let's hope the people in the House can see what is plain and clear. Don't fail the 85% of kids who are already in daycare or PreK.
If anybody who can afford to sends their kids to PreK, why do they do it? Because they know it's important to their kids.
I don't know what axe the MS Center for Public Policy has to grind. They are against this, but minutes later they send out a email advocating taxpayer funding of private school vouchers? Um, ok. I think vouchers are great. But if you can support vouchers so that our kids can get a better education, I don't see where you can't support PreK.
Finally, I looked at the staff directory of the MS Center for Public Policy. Men and more men. Do any of them have PreK aged children or older? If they do, do or did they send them to PreK?

Anonymous said...

The only axe any of us has to grind is that this will be nothing but babysitting service, just like Head Start. Three meals a day, baby sitting service, learning to color, nap time and learning the YO MAMA language. Welcome to Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

The way it is written all teachers must have a BA and all assistant teachers must have an associates degree. So it will not be just babysitting. It's time for us to drag this state out of the basement.

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI- Head Start is NOT a "babysitting service". In fact, it is probably one of the most heavily regulated federal programs. They provide hearing, vision, dental, health, and mental health services to enrolled children in our state. I would venture to say that it is much like a school district - there are some that are great and some that need to improve.

Anonymous said...

I see the MS Tea Party is against this. That tells me something. They are all so old they don't care what happens to children. They don't have any.

Shadowfax said...

Since when it is the purpose and mission of the education system to provide "hearing, vision, dental,health and mental health services" (plus three squares a day)? It's become more of a village raising a child and the parents foregoing their obligations. Cradle to grave mentality. The state gonna take care of us. It is NOT the state's obligation to raise your children.

9:06 goes on to claim 'it is much like a school district'. However, employees in Head Start centers are not required to be licensed teachers or be degreed, nor do school districts provide all those 'free' services; so, where's the similarity other than herding the kids into 'state managed' rooms for most of the daylight hours?

It should also be against the law for head start centers to send political (voting) literature home with the children.

As Mr. Thigpen said in his message, we have been doing this for decades and scores are the same now as they were twenty, thirty years ago. Where's the improvement? Talk to a first grade teacher about the preparation level of these kids.

Anonymous said...

No one is saying that the Pre-K bill is trying to set up something like Head Start. It is NOT. It has NOTHING TO DO with Head Start. It uses existing infrastructure, existing schools, existing facilities.

Anonymous said...

Im for also for drug testing for welfare recipients, making welfare recipients pick up trash along the highway, no pay for more than one child on welfare. No money for welfare recipients for phones, tv, ect. We do all this we we can pay for the greatest preK in the country!!! YAY!!!

Anonymous said...

If you follow the logic of the MS Center for Public Policy to its logical conclusion, we should have public elementary or high schools either.

Anonymous said...

If you follow the logic of liberals and Donkeycrats we will have a currency devaluation, bread lines, chaos and anarchy.

Anonymous said...

Pre-K is good and its parent's choice. State funding it is bad.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we have a few like Mr. Thigpen with some knowledge, experience, morals and ethics to express logical conclusions. Seems our legislatures want to throw a pile of shit against the wall, and see if any of it sticks. Until they can solve the problems we have now, why layer them with Pre-K, charter schools, or any other BS they can dream of?

Anonymous said...

This policy idea did not just appear, the very liberal Center for American Progress is major advocate of such programs:

Shadowfax said...

Other than chanting "I'm for it, I'm for it", I don't see much of anything posted that would encourage me to support it. It's impossible to argue with the history and facts laid out by Mr. Thigpen.

Are a few of you actually suggesting that state-funded classrooms for 3-5 year olds will boost their readiness for first grade? This concept is nothing more than expanding the length of time the state is responsible for raising your children.

We all bought into the notion that a child can't learn while he's hungry, and as a result we now feed everybody three squares pretty much year round. Now we're asked to buy into the notion that children need to be institutionalized during the day from the time they're three years old, at taxpayer expense. This idea is as hokey as midnight basketball.

But wait! We're told by 8:07 that "it uses existing infrastructure, existing schools, existing facilities." Did you intend to leave out "existing tax revenue, existing bus contracts, existing meal catering plans, existing salaries, existing consulting budgets and existing bureacracies"?

Anonymous said...

The numbers don't lie. 85% of kids are already out of the home on weekdays, in daycare or in a PreK program.
Those of you who don't want to pay for any part of PreK are probably people who don't have young children. You got yours, so what do you care?
MEC has come out for years saying this is the number one thing we can do to lift ourselves off the bottom. Are they a bunch of socialists? I don't think so. They are realists, and they see what this state is going to have to do to be successful in the future.

Kingfish said...

I didn't approve that because you got the name wrong.

Anonymous said...

This isn't Mayberry 1984 either 12/13@7:46 - and the biased, well-funded media campaign ok kindergarten past has result in legislation that directs funding to a set of initiates that have do e little to improve school readiness. In one case, children were actually less ready after participating in the program.

If that alone is not cause for concern, @8:07 the information is simply wrong. This legislation is a smokescreen hiding SDE getting its hands on head Start and child care money - and groups like Kingfish's favorite CEI getting a cut off the top.

Anonymous said...

This is the most disheartening post I've read on JJ. The author looks past the science that supports pre-K education and jumps right to the politics of expanding government.

I was a skeptic of the pre-K notion when I first read about it. However, after spending a year on one of the Mississippi Economic Council's outreach efforts, it became obvious that our state needs this or a substantially similar program.

Like it or not, children are coming to schools ill prepared. The parents in this state are not educating their children at home. They may have good reasons (don't have the tools/skills/education themselves) or bad (just plain lazy, sorry or ignorant about the importance). Saying that fact should change doesn't change it, and it doesn't do one wit for our state's extra-ordinarily poor condition.

Educating the children in their formative years is critical and directly tied to economic success in life (not to mention other outcomes). Too many in our state didn't get it and don't get it now. That needs to change to change the socio-economic well-being of our state. It won't change it today, to be sure. But it will change it.

I am a fiscal conservative, not that it matters.

Anonymous said...

Amen 2:49. Amen.

Anonymous said...

It's spelled Kindergarten. At least spell it right. Or did MCPP give the article to you with the title misspelled? That would be funny.

Phonetically Speaking said...

The state went with the concept of kindergarten some years ago in order to better prepare children for first grade. We don't need another experiment that pretends now to prepare them for kindergarten in order for them to be better prepared for first grade. What next? Replacing all the paid day care centers with school-house rock for toddlers? Return to phonics in first grade and all this hand-wringing will go away.

Anonymous said...

The only outcome Thigpen offers is ACT scores. That's pathetic. What about reading readiness in 1st grade. Reading at grade level by 3rd? Numeracy skills in k-3? Beyond the ACT number, which is correlated with a shit ton of other non academic variables, he has nothing but bullshit tea party rhetoric. World's going one way. Y'all are going the other.

Anonymous said...

I'd like an answer to the questions Forest. Are there any women on your staff? If yes, are any of them mothers of young children? If yes, what did they do with their kids? Did they send them to pre-k or daycare? Or did they think it worthless? Are there any men with Pre-k 4 or K aged kids working there, and if so what are they doing with their kids? Are they or did they send them to pre-k or daycare?
You hypocrites send your kids to St Andrews, or JA, or Prep, but you disparage working MOTHERS AND FATHERS who want their children to be educated. It's not worth it to y'all when it's not your own kids.

Tea Who said...

I don't understanding the incessant harping about the 'tea party'. What's that got to do with pre-kindergarten in Mississippi? Unless you are drawing a parallel between a political philosophy and not wanting to piss away money on another day-care program. I doubt you know jack shit about "the tea party".

Anonymous said...

8:04 You are clearly a Tea Party member, since you view investment in children's futures as "pissing away money in another day-care program".
I know plenty of sh*t about "the tea party".

Anonymous said...

It is the tea party harpy troll 8:04 PM. Stop feeding it.

Shadowfax said...

Can 7:04 possibly be serious. He seems to be supporting the program as a means of allowing women (and men) a place to 'put' their children. So, now we are in agreement that this concept is nothing more than another government 'place' that will feed and care for your kids while you work or do 'other stuff' during the day.

As to the Tea Party maligners, what's the connection? I don't think we have people in the legislature who ran on a 'tea party ticket' (as if there was one). You harpies might as well be claiming nobody but republicans are opposed to this concept. Find another mantra.

Shadowfax said...

The letter KF says he received from two legislators was obviously not penned by those two men. Let's have some sunshine here and admit who wrote it and with what group they are affiliated.

Cutting to the chase, in a rather presumptious bunch of mumbo-jumbo is the real bottom line, which is shifting the burden of daycare from parents to the government.

Here is that bottom line statement from the letter:

"Most importantly, we are proud to stand with everyday Mississippians, especially those with young children. 85% of four-year-olds are already outside the home during the work week. Making high-quality preK available ensures that working parents have the kind of options that we know children deserve."

In other words, Hell, the kids are already spending the day somewhere else, why not let the government pick up the tab and teach them to color inside the lines and ask permission and 'stuff'.

Anonymous said...

According to an article in Newsmax today, Health and Human Services (HHS) deemed headstart a total failure accoding to their analysis. No accomplishment in the areas of health, learning, psychology, are any other of the areas measured.

Shadowfax said...

For the Head Start cheerleaders and others of you who herald this sort of madness…. (Sebelius’ head may roll over this publication.)


“In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) completed data collection for its third-grade follow-up study of Head Start, a federal preschool program designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children.

Four years later, just before Christmas, the agency finally published the results of the congressionally mandated evaluation. The report’s publication date reads October 2012, meaning the final product sat at HHS for two months before being released.

Since 1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on Head Start. Yet, over the decades, this Great Society relic has failed to improve academic outcomes for the children it was designed to help. The third-grade follow-up evaluation is the latest in a growing body of evidence that should urge policymakers to seriously consider Head Start’s future.

The timing of the release raises questions about whether HHS was trying to bury the findings in the report, which shows, among other outcomes, that by third grade, the $8 billion Head Start program had little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of participants. On a few measures, access to Head Start had harmful effects on children.”

Anonymous said...

In Alabama, for example, Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, has called for a $12.5 million increase — or more than 60 percent — in the state’s preschool budget, with the eventual goal of increasing financing over 10 years to the point where every 4-year-old in the state could have a preschool slot.

The governor’s proposal is supported by a coalition of early-education advocates and business leaders, who see preschool as an important component of future job readiness.

“We’re trying to invest in a work force that can compete in 20 years with other states and other nations,” said Allison de la Torre, executive director of the coalition, the Alabama School Readiness Alliance.

Alabama is one of only five states whose preschool program received top marks based on an assessment of its quality standards by the National Institute for Early Education Research, but only 6 percent of 4-year-olds there are enrolled in a state-financed preschool.

To receive state money in Alabama, a preschool must employ teachers with bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education or child development, keep class sizes under 20 children, and follow a state-approved curriculum.

Shadowfax said...

1:46 presents social experimentation at its best. In other words "The American Association of Automobile Tire Manufacturers" give a glowing report on the "Need For Increasing Prices of Tires".

Meanwhile, when a branch of government (Health and Human Services) publishes a report critical of its own programs' outcomes and reveals the waste and lack of success of its own programs, it's high damned time we pay attention. It happens rarely.

In Kansas City, The American Cattlemens' Association has published an extensive review suggesting Americans should eat more beef.

Anonymous said...

SF, you are not getting it. Head Start is not getting expanded in Alabama. Nor in MS.
The education reqs for the teachers alone are going to mean that only preschools are going to qualify. No one is talking about Head Start except you. Have you even read the bill?

Shadowfax said...

If you think nobody but me is talking about Head Start, you've obviously not read this entire thread. Head Start has been glorified several times here as one of the government's most effective, well regulated programs.

It's fair, in any analysis, to compare existing programs to proposed programs, especially when they serve the same population and would arguably overlap in services provided. And its fair to ask how, if Headstart is one of the governments most tightly managed programs, would another program serving the same age group be any more effective?

The thing to not lose sight of here is that proponents of preK are suggesting the government not only continue to fund head start but expand it by calling it PreK with no income test. More government, more bureaucracy, larger state department of education, more consultants rushing to the government tit, expanded college degree programs and more people captured in the 'cradle to grave net'.

If Head Start has gotten such a piss poor review from the government, how possibly could a parallel preK program get anything but the same?

Anonymous said...

good post, 4:08 pm

Anonymous said...

Obama Pushes Universal Pre-School Education
Obama is proposing offering federal matching of state education funding if they institute his pre-school program. He also wants to expand the Early Head Start program.

Qualifications for the funding include……”a government-approved curriculum.”

Obama was stumping for the program in Georgia specifically because the state started a program in 1995 that was to offer universal pre-kindergarten education.

Obama insisted that pre-kindergarten education leads to social benefits such as higher graduation rates, less crime, and fewer teenage pregnancies. The National Institutes of Health, a wing of the same Department of Health and Human Services that brought you Obamacare, used its own estimates to assert that a dollar spent on early education ended up giving $11 back to society later.

Of course, Obama didn’t put a price tag on his plans, but in Georgia, the pre-kindergarten education program costs $300 million per year. One other problem: Georgia, even with 6 out of 10 children attending the pre-school program, ranks in the lowest 25% of the nation in high school graduation rates.

Shadowfax said...

Claiming that Pre-K is the answer to failures/poor progress and lack of graduation success at the high school level is about like saying a restaurant with a piss-poor menu needs to start opening earlier.

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