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by
Bridget Johnson

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May 15, 2014 - 10:43 am

The senior Republican on the Senate committee that oversees education charged that an early education proposal by HELP committee Democrats would essentially create a national school board for preschoolers.

The Democrats’ early education plan would put decisions for states on such details as teacher salaries, class sizes, staff qualifications and length of the school day in federal hands, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. States would then be required to pay half of the program’s cost after 8 years.

“The Democrat bill that’s being proposed today would, in effect, create a national school board for 3- and 4-year-olds. It would spend $27 billion in new funding over 5 years with Washington making the decisions about how states should run their preschool programs. It includes requirements I don’t think the federal government has ever even attempted with elementary and secondary education,” Alexander said.

“Never before, not even in No Child Left Behind, has the federal government told school districts from Maryville to Memphis how to run their schools in such detail,” he added.

HELP Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D) said at the bill’s Wednesday markup that it’s a “disappointment” that the bill is “supported on only one side of the aisle here in the Senate.”

“States and localities are already moving in the direction of supporting high-quality early learning, but their efforts are limited in large part by inadequate resource,” Harkin said. “…The Strong Start for America’s Children Act will encourage the expansion of these types of programs. In the case of preschool, it will provide states with robust matching grants so that they can establish, enhance, or expand on their current efforts. In exchange, and over a period of several years, states will increase their current levels of investment in preschool programs.”

Harkin has slightly adjusted his bill from one he introduced last November — “among the most notable changes is that this bill will allow every state in the country to receive formula grants to expand high-quality preschool.”

He added that arguments against the bill don’t hold up “when we look at the harsh realities of early learning in the U.S. Despite states’ investments in preschool, and our federal investments in child care and Head Start which are the only major investments the federal government makes in early learning, we fall far short of meeting the needs of children from birth to age five.”

Alexander has a counter-bill that gives states the option of using up to $20 billion that the federal government is already spending across 45 programs on early education “and allow states to use it in the way that best suits their needs.”

“Under my proposal, in Tennessee, we’d have about $440 million a year. If we were given this kind of flexibility, we could increase the vouchers for child care from 39,000 to 139,000; or the state-funded voluntary preschool program, from 18,000 4-year olds to 109,000; or we could expand Head Start, from 17,000 children to 56,000; we could create Centers of Excellence—otherwise leave to Tennessee to figure out what works best for Tennesseans,” he said in a statement.

“So, the question is not whether, but how best to make early childhood education available to the largest possible number of children.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (14)
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More National Mandates for Local Districts with no way to pay for them. Where is the parents responsibility to raise their children at home? I guess those days are long gone.


www.josephtramontana.net
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is there a brain too young to be washed?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Leave it to the Republican, in this case Sen. Alexander, to fail the American people once again. Instead of decrying the very notion of 3-4 year olds being separated from their moms at these crucial formative years, he wants to help yank them out of the nest; and then he pretends that this is a good thing. He's going to pretend that by giving our tax dollars to the states for this nefarious project instead of going along with the federal proposal that he's standing up for state's rights, or some such garbage -- it never enters his mind that young children BELONG AT HOME.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Back in 1952, Bertrand Russell wrote

I think the subject which will be of most importance politically is mass psychology … Its importance has been enormously increased by the growth of modern methods of propaganda. Of these the most influential is what is called ‘education.’ Religion plays a part, though a diminishing one; the press, the cinema, and the radio play an increasing part … It may be hoped that in time anybody will be able to persuade anybody of anything if he can catch the patient young and is provided by the State with money and equipment.

The subject will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship … The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity.

He seems to have nailed the problem more than sixty years ago. http://danmillerinpanama.wordpress.com/2014/05/04/a-domestic-color-revolution-in-the-united-states-of-obama/
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
High Quality "preschool" is accomplished by having a traditional family structure, so the mom can stay home and teach her own children. And perhaps, in the evening Dad can read to his kids.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a shame. Our education establishment has no idea how to create "high quality" preschool programs, and even if they did, small children are better off home with their parents. The goal here is not education at all, rather, it is the creation of more federal patronage and dependency. Finally, the U.S. is broke. We should be cutting, not increasing, spending, except for defense.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Democrats continues their faster than a speeding bullet transformation into the Communist Party of the United States.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Evidence says that Head Start is a massive failure and any supposed gains disappear with a couple of years. So we should invest in more pre-school programs that will have disappearing gains.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"gives states the option of using up to $20 billion that the federal government is already spending ... and allow states to use it in the way that best suits their needs."

More of this. Lots more. It's the only solution to out of control government.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hmm, my copy of the Constitution spells out a lot of things Congress can do. Education isn't one of them.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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