Plan would be costly, and not just in terms of money

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CALIFORNIA’S excellent preschools are threatened as never before by the pet political initiative of Hollywood personality Rob Reiner. Proposition 82 on the June primary ballot would decimate community preschool providers, lower preschool quality by limiting competition and freedom of consumer choice, leave out the disadvantaged kids who most need preschool, and cost far more than the proponents claim. At a time when our public schools are in disarray and we face chronic budget deficits, we shouldn’t be creating a new, multibillion-dollar preschool bureaucracy. We should instead be fixing the huge problems we have with our current K-12 system. Reiner’s scheme for government-run preschool would put the decisions as to which preschools survive or are shut down into the hands of the black hole of California public schools, the county offices of education, a layer of bureaucracy that most voters don’t even know exists. Covetous of more power and operating outside of meaningful voter oversight, the county offices of education will shut down thousands of community-based preschools that currently enroll nearly half of all children enrolled in preschool in California, replacing thriving schools that provide jobs and tax revenue with government-run preschools of much lower quality. Reiner’s notion of “preschool for all” is really preschool for the rich. According to an analysis by respected former Legislative Analyst William Hamm, only 8.4 percent of funding from the new taxes would go to enroll high-risk kids who otherwise wouldn’t have gone to preschool. All the rest of the money is a subsidy of rich kids whose families can now pay anyway. Since so few new poor kids would come into the system, as contrasted with the many kids whose parents now pay and who would be taxpayer-subsidized with Proposition 82, the cost to the taxpayers of each new child coming into the system is an astounding $26,262! Proposition 82 would mean not just low quality and preschool for the rich, but also runaway costs. The Canadian province of Quebec enacted a similar scheme eight years ago, projecting that it would cost $320 million over five years. In fact, it has now cost $8.5 billion over the same period, or 33 times as much, while delivering shoddy preschools with little freedom of choice. All of these various stupidities would be bad enough under any circumstances, but one of the biggest blunders of all is that Proposition 82 is a constitutional amendment. Thus, as it becomes clear how badly it is working, it will be almost impossible to change. Even aside from all of the many problems in the initiative itself, Proposition 82 should be soundly defeated to teach a lesson in ethics and democracy to the people running the campaign. Rob Reiner and his employees last year used $23 million in taxpayer money for TV political ads promoting his vision for universal preschool. He and his cronies may yet be handed criminal indictments for using tax money for politics, but even if they’re conduct was technically legal, many voters will want to send them an unmistakable message in June about not picking the pockets of us taxpayers for politics. At a time when our public schools are in such terrible condition, we cannot afford to divert attention from K-12 education and undermine the quality of our excellent community preschools. The defeat of Proposition 82 is critical to the future of our state, and crucial to the lives of our children. Alan Bonsteel, M.D., is author of the book “A Choice for Our Children: Curing the Crisis in America’s Schools.”last_img

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