Roper: We can stop pretending pre-K is ‘for the kids’

By Rob Roper

When the state started to ramp up its government-funded, government-run pre-kindergarten programs in 2005-2006, the rhetoric was all about how great this would be “for the kids.” We needed to get more children into these “high quality” programs for their own good. Brain development is at a critical point between birth and five. You’ve likely heard the story. But what was and is still missing from this discussion is the undisputed fact that the best situation for a child from birth to age 5 is to be home with a parent, or, barring that possibility, a family member.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

So, why isn’t figuring out ways to make it easier for kids to stay home with a parent (or grandparent) in the early years the objective of state policy? Back in 2006, speaking to the Lake Champlain Chamber of Commerce on the issue of universal pre-K, I pointed out that the real reason for this is that the programs weren’t concerned with what’s best for children, but rather what’s best for businesses — getting mom and dad away from their baby and back to work, even if that had a negative effect on childhood development (not to mention taxpayers). My remarks were met with shock, indignation and protestations of innocence. How could any feeling human being believe such a thing?

Well, here we are today. Let’s Grow Kids paid for a 3,500 word infomercial article in Seven Days (perhaps elsewhere) touting, “Right now, some young parents who want to work are dropping out of the workforce because they can’t find care for their kids. Vermont can’t afford to lose them.” And, “This financial assistance could be described as an investment in the state’s future workforce.”

This “financial assistance” (aka government spending) could also be described as “corporate welfare,” and damaging to our state’s future workforce.

Since 2006, Vermont has grown state spending and regulation of pre-K programs significantly, and now Let’s Grow Kids is asking for $800,000,000 a year for a comprehensive birth to five program. What are the results? Fourth grade scores are falling and behavioral problems are on the rise.

Back in 2017, then House Education Committee chairman David Sharpe, D-Bristol, noted that there has also been, along with falling test scores, an increase in the number of disruptive students in the classroom. This prompted him to inquire, “I applaud your [Pre-K advocates] efforts, but are we creating these agencies to replace parents because we’ve created a culture where mom and dad get up every day and go do work and aren’t a part of their kids’ lives? Did we create this problem by creating a culture where children are without parents for so much of their life?”

Yes. These programs are not about what’s best for kids; they are not about what’s best for parents. They are, in fact, damaging to both. Government-funded pre-K is about what’s best for employers — forcing taxpayers to subsidize employees’ childcare expenses.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public domain and Rob Roper

27 thoughts on “Roper: We can stop pretending pre-K is ‘for the kids’

  1. There is a very unfortunate situation in Vermont. While I believe that the “pre-school” period in a child’s life is the most important as far as education is concerned, putting them into a learning situation structured by the State government is a big mistake. My wife and I raised one child, as we knew that was all we could provide for financially. She got an excellent pre-school education from us and went on to become a successful college educated adult. We both worked full time while she grew up. Raising children is a parental responsibility, not a State responsibility, especially in the Socialist Republic of Vermont. The State is paving the pathway for government controlled education through financial manipulation. If we still lived in Vermont I would send my child to religious schools or home school. The State of Vermont has become so Left leaning that I would not entrust them to any part of my child’s education.

  2. This is not about kids at all.It’s not about business getting mom and dad back to work either.

    This is a jobs program for teachers and government rate baby sitters.You’ll note that the administrators running these programs,right down to the teachers are paid far better than mom and dad,even with a $15/hr. min. wage.Cadillac health insurance and platinum pensions are what these programs are all about.
    Property taxes are killing not only Vermont,but the whole country.Elderly homeowners are being pushed out of lifetime homes by government blue bloods that think college is necessary to mind little boys and girls.Sorry,it’s not that hard and it’s certainly not worth the rate of pay and retirement that you’re asking for.

  3. All those with an interest in making some big money have jumped on this train and now work for non-profits. There are some serious salaries out there – see Mark Shriver’s commentary on VTDigger; his little tax-exempt group has a nifty name ‘Save The Children Action Network’. Check the IRS 990 form that 501(c)3’s have to file and we discover this Action Network spends 30% of their government grants on salaries and benefits; Mr. Shriver’s total exceeds $350,000 per year – and all he has to do is write a self-serving commentary.

    I encourage everybody to look at all these non-profits littering our media with false information, glad-handing with our elected officials and seeking nothing more than increased revenue for their inflated salaries.

  4. The chickens have finally come home to roost. This outcome was forecast years ago when the pre-K advocates were beating on their drum. Expert testimony was ignored and those in favor were considered the real experts. This has been another one of the Dem/Lib/Prog sink holes for squandering hard earned tax payer dollars.

  5. As the dead bodies pile up from drugs and suicides America clings to it’s failed 1950’s Culture which includes the goofy school system. We lost more people to drugs and suicide in the last 20 years than we lost in all the wars since 1775.

    More people died last year from drugs & suicide than died in the 10 year Vietnam war and last week the voters rubber stamped the status quo.

    The current college bribery news exposes the truth about our leaders, daddy’s money paved the road to the top for the hacks and it’s now known lots of people with fancy degree’s are FAKES.

    America is a bizarre Cult that believes in fairy tales, myths & folklore like some primitive society. On top of it people who speak the truth are attacked to shut them up.

    Intelligent people try something else if what they are doing isn’t working. Simpleminded people with no vision cling to the failed system because they fear the unknown. A nation founded by rugged pioneers is now a nation of people scared to try anything new.

    3 day work week, each parent works half the week = 48 hours.
    40 hours used to support a family. The after tax net income from families holding 2 full time job is like zero in many cases after the expense of child care an other things.

    • I have to correct you about the 50’s, it was the best time for being educated and growing. Closely and see what that generation produced. All my classmates agree it was the best of times. VT had high employment, life values and gun freedom. The cars produced are collector items. We lived from the late 40’s to today, (what’s left of us) and seen it all. We had very dedicated teachers and administrators. My HS class in Springfield was 4 years ahead of the total US schools.

      Your “which includes the goofy school system.” shows you haven’t done your homework. I’m offended. The school system, hippies, and liberalism started in the late 60’s. The goofy school systems apply now-a-day. There’s a H– of a lot more I can mention.

      Where are you coming from? Simply ask some of the class of ’57 and don’t spew your no-nothing crapology about the best times of this country. And yes, I was subected to the military draft and served, a requirement at 18. Draft Board in Woodstock.

      • I was born in 1959

        If the 50’s was so great why is the country such a mess considering it’s being run by the people who went to school back in the good old days ?

        We had people rioting in the streets in the 1960’s & started a war on poverty and people cling to the notion those where the good old days based on it was for them ?

        Go to You-Tube and search
        “Why America isn’t the greatest country in the world anymore.”

        I can sum it up. It’s because the arrogant narcissists of the ME Generation destroyed the country.
        I don’t need to ask somebody from 1957 to hear the same old sound bites I hear all the time from spoiled narcissists who can’t get out a sentence without using the word {{ I }}

        The people who where teens in the 1950’s & 60’s turned into adults that pillaged & plundered the country like a swarm of starving locusts leaving behind a 3rd world country so deep in debt it’s mind boggling. The American Graffiti Happy Days generation grew up an had kids and claimed everything was for the children yet destroyed the country leaving mayhem from coast to coast and their own children screwed.

        Generation Fail needs to be put out to pasture and go play bingo, they have done enough damage.

        • All your rhetoric is of the late 60’s and into today. You didn’t live in my era, so know nothing of that life them, I was in the military in 1959, and lived the Cold War time with Russia. Yup a Liberal. Stay in your world. We saved you world before you knew there was a world. I thank those military guys that gave all for me to have a life.

          End to story, be thankful.

          • The story is you people trashed the planet and turned the country into food stamp nation. I’ve had a front row seat to watch it for almost 60 years.

            You-Tube has a million video’s of the America us old people have created. The poverty, big city slums, the homeless. Than there is the environmental destruction on a global scale. The debt left behind by generation of deadbeats is mind boggling. The 1950’s Culture produced a generation of morally bankrupt child like adults that turned a country that was on the right track into a total mess.

            Nobody is pretending pre-k is for kids, they are LYING it’s for The Children because they have no morals and are products of the post WW2 American Culture. It has totally failed, time to bury it and stop clinging to nostalgia, it wasn’t the good old days if it turned out so bad.

            America has become the evil Empire and our leaders for the last 40 years should be on trial for crimes against humanity.

  6. Bullseye! My wife and I refused to let strangers raise our children. Sacrifices were made. We just know that the only way to make sure your children are safe, loved and never mistreated is to do the work yourself. No matter what. This means no daycare, no babysitters.

    In the future the the State will own children, citizens will have to be licensed to procreate. Human Genetic engineering will be the norm for the privileged class. The rest of us will be “naturals” or “primitives” relegated to the Turbinium mines on the Moon and Mars.

    • “Sacrifices were made.” Let me guess, your wife stayed home, put her career on hold and lost future earnings and retirement money in the process. I hope I’m wrong. More often than not, though, that’s the norm. So tired of these “we made sacrifices” from older white guys.

      • My husband and I also chose to raise our children ourselves, and, yes, I CHOSE to stay home while he CHOSE to work sometimes 60 hours a week in a paper mill on a rotating shift. We both had gone straight from high school to college, both had academic scholarships and both paid for whatever the scholarships didn’t cover. Neither of us applied for grants or low income loans. After we got our Bachelors Degrees we went on for Master’s Degrees in our fields, and then went on to work in those fields. We found that the only reason we had gone to college in the first place was because we each were in the top of our high school classes, and were expected to go to college. While which college was a choice, the fact of going was not. We went because we were supposed to, just like kids today, most of whom have no reason, are being pushed into college to keep them out of the work force and to keep them from getting married and having kids. We found that we had wasted years of family life in order to chase careers, and have been incredibly happy raising our six kids on my husband’s one income, and our kids have benefited from our decision. Yes, we made sacrifices, and still do, and yes, we passed up “years of earnings and retirement money in the process”. Money can’t hold a candle to Family.

      • “….So tired of these “we made sacrifices” from older white guys.”

        Wow Dan, perhaps you can explain what being an older “white” guy has to do with any of this? Pretty bold statement coming from a guy in a state that’s 98% white, of which 48% are male that happen to live in the 2nd OLDEST state in the country.

        So coming from a younger guy like yourself what’s wrong with putting a career on hold (be it husband or wife) to raise the your next of kin?

        • There’s nothing wrong with choosing to put your career on hold. What’s wrong is that it disproportionately affects women who earn less than men on average. And what happens when they “choose” to take time off (what household is going to sacrifice the higher salary in that scenario?)? From the American Center for Progress: “After taking into account the potential wage growth and lost retirement savings over time, a parent who leaves the workforce loses up to four times their annual salary per year.” Sure, that could be a man who leaves the workforce and makes that sacrifice, but let’s not kid ourselves here.

          • It’s why we should change to a 3 day work week so everyone is on a level playing field and takes turns working and taking care of the family and home.

            The situation shouldn’t only be looked at from the view of two white collar professionals when they only make up a fraction of the population which leaves out the majority of households.

            It’s now 2019 not 1999 or 1979 so what somebody experienced decades ago is meaningless today.
            I, I, I.
            Me, me ,me
            people talking about what happened a generation or more ago doesn’t address todays situation.

          • Having a family is the most rewarding job in life and no career can give you what raising a family can. I suggest you not have children is it is all about the money to you! I have found in life money is not all it is cracked up to be!

          • You are speaking to a man that left his carrier to raise our children, thank you! I don’t resent it one bit, however you snide remark is just that.

            It was a decision that we made as a married couple before we had children.

            Did I loose long term potential salary, you bet. It doesn’t take a liberal think tank to dream that one up. Would I do it again? In a heart beat.

            I await your reply to the rest of statement concerning “Older white guys”.

          • Good for you and your family that you could afford to! Are you the norm? No.

            May I ask … when was this?

          • Still Crickets.

            Dan, I’m STILL doing it. I might be a white guy but but I’m not an “old white guy” . My oldest is less then 10 years old.

            And I still HAVE to work part time, I just do it at an opposite shift as my wife so one of us is always home to raise our kids. I walked away from my carer. When my kids are old enough I’ll return to it.

            We made the sacrifice, and are still making it to raise our kids. I don’t even have a cell phone, don’t have cable. Right there is $200/month. The list goes on. I’m sorry you don’t see it, it’s simply a matter of a parent doing whatever it takes to be there to raise their own children. Those that aren’t willing to whine and complain and expect the state to hold their hand and someone else to pay for it. Rather selfish if you ask me.

  7. What has happened? When my kids were little – and I worked – I read to them, taught them the alphabet,reading, their numbers and did things with them.Every night at bedtime there was a story.It is the parents JOB to do this NOT the school.You bond,you teach right from wrong you love them BEFORE they go to school not plunk them in an environment where there’s so many kids they get no attention. This is pre -pre school! This is the teachers union!. A lady ,in Vermont, was on tv talking about child care. She said it cost her three weeks pay out of a month! Think about that- WHY is she working ? Stay home, you don’t have to go on vacation or have a new car live within your means, love your children and take care of them because before you know it they’re grown and gone.

    • I too was a working mother……but my husband and I made sure that when we needed a babysitter, it was someone who shared our views on bringing up children. Most of our sitters were grandmothers. But, there were bedtime stories and Bible stories and prayer time. If I had it to do over again, I would have tried to find a way to have been home with the children rather than working outside the home. At the time, my husband was building a business and cash flow was irregular, so my check filled in and my job also provided insurance. We were aware that these precious young ones would grow up so quickly and we tried to enjoy every moment we could at every stage of their lives.

  8. Well now, with H.57 there may not be any Pre-K or K. It would put those “educators-baby sitters” on the street.
    No more ” Did we create this problem by creating a culture where children are without parents for so much of their life?”

    Interesting, is reality catching up?

  9. ““Right now, some young parents who want to work are dropping out of the workforce because they can’t find care for their kids.”

    Gosh, you mean the parent is actually parenting? How is this a bad thing? Oh I get it, Vermont’s labor force is so anemic that it needs everyone with a pulse to be working to fund the bloated government.

    Got it. Run. Run fast.

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