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From time to time I’m going to offer in this space a thought on something in the news, or a piece of legislation that’s being argued or voted on, somewhere in the country. I hope my take on things stimulates readers to think and probe for themselves.


What's a Musing?

I started writing articles about issues in education while I was editing the web site for the Department of Schools– Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, in California. The purpose was to alert parents to the political, economic and pedagogical impact of government on their children, and their ability to guide their children’s learning. The “musings” on this web site will attempt to do the same, but I’m not representing anyone or anything but me. No one should construe what I write to represent The Catholic Church or its teachings.

Unsafe at Any Speed
July 2007

California has long been a battle ground where forces for and against School Choice make their case every few years. Broadly speaking, choice pits parents who want to have some say in the place and manner in which their kids are educated, against those satisfied with the status quo of public– or as some term it– government schooling. In recent years there have been two major efforts to put a “voucher” system before the voters in the state. Both have failed.

But the folks who like the idea of government controlling education weren’t satisfied with those voucher defeats. So under leadership of Rob Reiner, whom some may remember as the character Meat Head in the television series All in the Family, an effort was initiated to have the government fund a universal preschool. The argument was that only a state funded early effort at guiding youngsters would bolster California’s ability to provide a citizenry prepared for the coming decades. Trash talk if I ever heard it!

In June of 2006, after expensive efforts on both sides, an initiative to provide funding and a mechanism for universal preschool that had qualified for placement on the ballot in the Golden State, was soundly defeated by the voters. One of the reasons for this may have been the disclosures during the campaign that Mr. Reiner had used tax funds he controls from a previous victory that allows him to advertise antismoking messages on radio and television, to promote his Preschool plan. Or, as Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute suggests in a recent opinion piece, perhaps the voters had noticed a 2005 Stanford-UC Berkeley study that found that attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by kindergarten teachers.

None the less, a bad local idea isn’t long neglected as far as liberal politicos are concerned. As Mr. Izumi points out in his article, Nancy Pelosi– member of Congress from the Golden State, and Speaker of the House – has been lobbying for more money for the 42 year old “Head Start” program even while its failure at great expense to serve the youngsters it purports to help, is well documented.

Parents throughout the nation have raised up their kids at home without government assistance for years. One way for the government to help in this continuing and noble effort may be to just stop taking money from these folks via taxes, and let them get on with the job at hand.