Rob Reiner, who gained his fame as 'Meathead' on the popular All
in the Family sitcom, has successfully taken his liberal
television political views to California's government. But he
has his eyes on the nation as well. The
Washington Post describes his "dual crusade: to change
the direction of politics and to improve the performance of kids in
schools. He bids, someday, to be the Democrats' answer to Ronald
was just a few years ago, in 1998, when Reiner's Prop 10 passed
and got him appointed as the first Chair of First 5 California
Children and Families Commission by Governor Gray Davis, to
implement Prop 10's "health care, preschool and other critical
services to prepare them (preschoolers) to succeed in
10 put a 50-cent per pack tax on cigarettes and has generated more
than $4 billion since 1999, with 20 percent of the money going to
First 5. In 2004-05 alone First
5's share of the money was $119 million. Today Reiner and
his commission are facing a full-scale
audit into allegations they used government money to
promote his newest initiative, Prop 82, which will be on
California's June ballot. If passed, Prop 82 will establish
universal preschool for all 4 year olds in the Golden State.
But what's Reiner and his campaign
not telling us about his newest initiative?
voluntary, half-day state/government-run preschools for all
4-year-olds regardless of want or need.
-Will be funded by taxing the top 1.7% of income earners in
California, increasing taxes to 11% on individuals with taxable
income of $400,000 / couples of $800,000 or more.
an estimated $2.3 billion a year.
(That's $8,000 per child which is more than some kindergarten
through Grade12 schools pay for a full day).
-Requires all pre-school teachers to have a Bachelor’s Degree.
-Kids who go to preschool
will do better in kindergarten and elementary school, graduate from
high school, attend college, get better jobs with higher salaries
and become happy consumers who will be less likely to do drugs and
commit crimes than those who don't go to preschool.
-Based on a RAND Corporation study (funded by the
pro-universal-preschool Packard Foundation) claims for every $1
spent on preschool, society will get back $2.62 in long-term
benefits such as better student performance and lower crime.
he consulted with educational experts, interestingly Reiner
failed to sit down with any associations representing preschools. He
failed to consult with any of the California K-12 school reform
groups. And he never talked with any home-schooling organizations.
So, who did he consult? The existing interlocking layers of
dysfunctional bureaucracy, California state, county and
district levels of education, where parents, voters and taxpayers
have very little say or control. Prop 82 will hand preschools over
to the same bureaucracy
also fails to consider the substantial analysis and findings on
the effects of early preschool on under 5 year olds in his
efforts to gain preschool for all. Consider:
Stanford University Findings:
In their review, "How
Much is Too Much? - the Influence of Preschool Centers on
Children's Development Nationwide' they detail their analysis
which utilized data from 14,162 kindergartners and their
parents and teachers. Which found
that children from poor families had gains in cognitive
skills when attending preschools by
about 10%, and double that for English-proficient Hispanic children.
However, they also found that there is less
evidence of cognitive skill gains for
youngsters from middle-class home,
or for other children from lower-income families compared with their
counterparts who remain at home with a parent.
The Stanford study also states
that there is little known about possible impacts from the
duration (the age at which children enter preschool) or the
intensity (hours enrolled each week) of attendance.
And 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. This
confirms other studies showing increased behavior problems caused by
out of home care.
2006, UC Santa Barbara researchers found that whatever
student achievement gains can be attributed to preschool attendance
largely evaporates after a few years in elementary school.
In other words, by about 2nd grade skill levels of children who
attended preschool and those who did not were the same and remained
so throughout the rest of their education.
UC Berkeley Professor
Bruce Fuller issued a study last year that examined research on
teacher education and preschool,
and found that studies claiming to show a connection between
teachers holding bachelor's degrees and better student performance
were statistically and methodologically flawed.
Georgetown University Professor
William Gormley admits a universal pre-K program may or may not be
the best path to school readiness. There is inconsistent evidence as
to whether universal preschool helps improve the short-term
performance of middle and upper-income children.
information to consider:
T. Izumi, Director
of Education Studies
and Senior Fellow
in California studies at the Pacific Research Institute
says about Prop 82 specifically, "Preschool for all is a
seductive proposition, but the reality is that the purported
benefits would likely be much less than what Rob Reiner and his
cohorts are promising. And with experts arguing that Reiner’s cost
estimate of $2 billion is way too low, universal preschool looks to
be a very expensive bad idea."
John Bruer, author of “The Myth of
the First Three Years” and President
of the James S. McDonnel Foundation
writes, "Brain science has nothing to say about what
happens to babies' brains when parents read to them. There's nothing
wrong with reading, but in other cultures they're not as concerned
with it as we are. We have to be careful in our attempts to use
biology to justify our values. Human children thrive under a great
variety of social and cultural conditions. Yes, kids should be ready
to read when they start school. But starting at age 7 is not a
Karen Effrem, pediatrician, and board member of the ICSPP
(International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology)
said regarding this issue, "There is a significant
element of indoctrination in these programs as evidenced
by the Head Start national standards and the National
Association for the Education of Young Children standards that bring
up issues of gender identity,
homosexuality, environmentalism, and social activism with three and
four year olds. Preschool does not raise test scores. Despite a
quadrupling of the number of four year olds attending
preschool nationally over
the past 40 years, test scores in reading, math, and science have
remained stagnant over the same period.”
See her testimony before the Minnesota Senate Early Childhood
Finance Division: Dr.
Karen Effrem Testimony Against SF 2841 - Preschool Socioemotional
And just for the record, Paul
Haubner, a specialist for the National Education Association has
said, "The schools cannot allow parents to influence the
kind of values-education their children receive in school; that is
what is wrong with those who say there is a universal system of
values. Our (humanistic) goals are incompatible with theirs. We must
change their values.“
I don't think so!
looking at Prop 82, or any universal preschool-for-all proposals, we
need to keep in mind that while little
kids need and deserve a
secure place to spend their days where they can
grow and develop during the first 5 years of life,
that home is still a child's best "preschool" for the vast
majority of American children. If
mom must work, daycare is a better alternative. More on that in
Hughes - Sharon is the President of The Center for Changing
Worldviews, and hosts Changing Worldviews TALK Radio which is heard on
KDIA AM1640 San Francisco; KGDP AM660 Santa Maria, CA and
WITA AM1490 Knoxville, TN, as well as online daily at
Oneplace.com. Her column appears on several online news sites
chNews.com, NewsWithviews.com, RenewAmerica.us and others.
For further information visit her: Website www.changingworldviews.com Blogsite http://changingworldviews.
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Francisco Bay Area and Around the world Online at Oneplace.com