Assembly bill would extend ‘cradle-to-career’ state education

by CalWatchdog Staff | May 21, 2013 9:02 am

May 21, 2013

By Katy Grimes

SACRAMENTO — Some California educators want to educate your children “cradle-to-career.”


In support of President Obama’s proposal to significantly increase federal spending on early childhood education and care, Assembly Concurrent Resolution 45[2] is by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. It would urge the Legislature to boost early childhood education funding in order to get children into day care and educational programs even before preschool.

Weber explained her bill Monday on the Assembly floor. A retired professor of African American Studies at San Diego State University, she touted the benefits of spending more money on parenting classes and on programs for babies and toddlers:

“A child who attends quality early care and education programs is less likely to be arrested and more likely to earn higher incomes than a child who does not, and the opportunity to participate in such programs prepares children to attain a higher standard of living as adults and to become members of the high-skilled workforce that is critical to our nation’s economic future.

“If we are only looking at preschool beginning at age 2-1/2 to three, we are missing a significant part of time when we should be stimulating the child.” 

Neglecting such development “could prove very harmful to the future of these children, especially African American males,” the Assembly Black Caucus [3]noted.

Weber also explained of parenting classes, “Of all the things we are licensed to do, drive a car, own a business, we basically give birth to children with no training or background or assistance. That is why parenting classes are important.”

“I don’t want any of our five-year-olds to feel like a failure that first day of school,” added Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, also a teacher.

Said Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, D-Coachella, “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early childhood education can save more than $7 later on, in less youth violence, improved social skills and reducing violent crime.”


But the results just aren’t there.

Weber’s bill touted many studies showing a need for more and earlier childhood education and daycare. But a report from the Head Start [4]program in October 2012 found that, by third grade, Head Start [4]had little to no effect on participating children in the four areas of cognitive, social-emotional, health or parenting outcomes.

“Head Start, the flagship pre-kindergarten program introduced in 1965, has been a $166 billion failure,” according[5] to Andrew Coulsen, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom.

“But by the end of the first grade, even those few effects have disappeared, according to the follow-up released this month,” Coulsen said. “Out of 44 separate cognitive tests given to former Head Start students at the end of the first grade, only two showed even marginally significant effects. The other 42 showed no statistically significant effect at all.”

It also cited multiple studies finding that, while Head Start had some initial positive effects, most of those were not sustained into elementary school.

Studies show failures

Georgia and Oklahoma have universal preschool programs. A Georgia State University study[6] on the effectiveness of the program covering data from 2001-2004 found that, by the end of first grade, children who did not attend preschool had skills similar to those students who had attended Georgia’s state preschools.

A Heritage Foundation study [7]from 2009 found, “More than a decade after offering students universal preschool, neither Georgia nor Oklahoma has shown impressive gains in students’ academic achievement, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress.”

While President Obama’s massive federal preschool expansion further entangles Washington in the education and care of the youngest Americans, public demand for new, large-scale government spending on early childhood education and care is not evident. An estimated 74 percent of four-year-old children are already enrolled in public and private preschool throughout the country.

And low-income families already have access to taxpayer-funded preschool through state programs and Head Start. Proof that this is just an attempt to further expand government comes from President Obama’s proposal would subsidize middle-income and upper-income families.

Growing government preschool at any level does not address deeper social issues, such as the crisis of single motherhood, which lie at the heart of the type of poverty that affects Americans today.

But despite these findings, Weber and 62 members of the Assembly voted in support of the resolution to expand California’s role in the lives of children.

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