Monday, May 15, 2006

A Magic Bullet?

Last week, the Richmond Times Dispatch reported that Governor Tim Kaine is back to touting his universal preschool program and citing his support for a plan that “would funnel public dollars to private child-care providers as well as to public programs.”

Readers of this blog will know that we often discuss school choice. So at first glance this might appear to indicate the Governor may be open to the idea of allowing ALL children the opportunity to attend the schools of their choice, regardless of their age.

Alas, it appears that Kaine supports choice for 4 year olds, and we’ll assume he still supports it for college-aged students (in the form of TAG grants), but still he’s firmly against giving 5-18 year olds choice.

The article notes that “Kaine has expressed opposition to vouchers that would allow students in kindergarten though 12th grades to apply public money toward private school tuition.”

He is concerned about funding of K-12 education. Yet, he acknowledges how much his universal preschool program would cost, and how utilizing existing private providers would allow more money to go directly to the education of students.

"One option," Kaine said, "would be, do you do this purely through the public school system? But if you were to do that, much of the money that you would spend would be bricks and mortar -- to add classrooms -- and I want to spend the dollars on teachers and kids more than on buildings.”

So creating an entirely new program (with all it’s associated costs) is okay, but supporting a school choice program, such as HB1294, is not, even if it would save taxpayer dollars?

I’m confused.

For more fun reading on whether universal preschool is really all that it’s hyped up to be, check out this report by the Pacific Research Institute: No Magic Bullet: Top Ten Myths About the Benefits of Government-Run Universal Preschool .



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