Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drinks

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Yorkers Fight Over Who Gets the Privilege of Paying for Universal Preschool

Posted by on Thu, Jan 23, 2014 at 9:19 AM

There's a political fight brewing between New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over universal preschool: They both want to pay for it!

Leave it to New York’s top two political alpha males: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio are locked in a contest over something they both agree on. Mr. de Blasio wants to offer free, full-day prekindergarten to every 4-year-old in New York City and pay for it by raising taxes on wealthy residents. Mr. Cuomo is promising to pay for full-day prekindergarten across the entire state, without any tax increase.

... Mr. Cuomo told The Times on Wednesday that he would be willing to write what amounts to a blank check to Mr. de Blasio and other mayors in the state who wish to improve and expand their preschool programs. “As fast as he can come up to speed, we will fund it,” the governor said.

Since prekindergarten was a major plank in Mr. de Blasio’s campaign platform last year, the governor’s offer could be a big victory for him, even though it would not be financed in the way he had envisaged.

... Questions remain, too, about the strength of the governor’s commitment. Mr. Cuomo says he has long supported universal preschool, but this did not become a full-blown priority until after the de Blasio election. He told The Times that he now considers it “the greatest single educational reform that we can make.”

Of course, the obvious solution is for NYC is to accept state money to fund universal preschool for all 4-year-olds, and then tax NYC's rich to expand the city's programs to all 3-year-olds. The latest research suggests that getting kids into high-quality preschool by age 3 is the key to closing the achievement gap.

But either way, it's a great fight to have! Too bad we don't have the same problem here in Seattle, where pronouncements by both the mayor and city council that they are committed to funding universal citywide preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, has been met by crickets from Olympia. If anything, we're more likely to see an effort by legislators to preempt our authority to fund preschool than one to rush in with cash and claim the credit. For now.

Still, the example we see in New York is encouraging. The number one objective of implementing high-quality universal preschool Seattle-wide is to enact the one education reform that has been repeatedly proven to be the most effective at improving both academic and life outcomes, while dramatically closing the achievement gap. But it does not come out of any desire to screw the rest of the state and go it alone. The hope is that if we pass it here and prove that it works, other cities will follow suit until there is enough political pressure to fund a high-quality program statewide.

"It's not fair!" the rest of the state will scream. "Why do Seattle-area children get preschool and ours don't?" That's what it will take for Republican legislators to support raising the revenue necessary to make a statewide program possible. But we have to do it here in Seattle first.


Comments (14) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Shame all the advantages of head start vanish after just 3 years. Apparently making 3 year olds wards of the state only helps them so much when they come from single parent households. Only so much the gub'ment can do to raise our kids right.
Posted by Privilege is the new 'cracker' on January 23, 2014 at 9:27 AM · Report this
Goldy 2
@1 Wrong!

Posted by Goldy on January 23, 2014 at 9:53 AM · Report this
mkyorai 3
@1 Do you have a source for your "all advantages disappear after 3 years" statement, or is it just "see: my rectum"?
Posted by mkyorai on January 23, 2014 at 9:54 AM · Report this
Head Start: A Tragic Waste of Money

Head Start, the most sacrosanct federal education program, doesn’t work.

That’s the finding of a sophisticated study just released by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Created in 1965, the comprehensive preschool program for 3- and 4-year olds and their parents is meant to narrow the education gap between low-income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. Forty-five years and $166 billion later, it has been proven a failure.

“Instead of throwing more dollars at this proven failure, President Obama might consider throwing his weight behind proven successes.”
The bad news came in the study released this month: It found that, by the end of the first grade, children who attended Head Start are essentially indistinguishable from a control group of students who didn’t.

What’s so damning is that this study used the best possible method to review the program: It looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either the Head Start (“treatment”) group or to the non-Head Start (“control”) group.

Random assignment is the “gold standard” of medical and social-science research: It gives investigators confidence that the treatment and control groups are essentially identical in every respect except their access to Head Start. So if eventual test performances differ, we can be pretty sure that the difference was caused by the program. No previous study of Head Start used this approach on a nationally representative sample of children.

When the researchers gave both groups of students 44 different academic tests at the end of the first grade, only two seemed to show even marginally significant advantages for the Head Start group. And even those apparent advantages vanished after standard statistical controls were applied.

In fact, not a single one of the 114 tests administered to first graders — of academics, socio-emotional development, health care/health status and parenting practice — showed a reliable, statistically significant effect from participating in Head Start.

Some advocates of the program have acknowledged these dramatic results, but suggest that it’s not necessarily Head Start’s fault if its effects vanish during kindergarten and the first grade — perhaps our K-12 schools are to blame.

But that’s beside the point. Even if it’s true, it means that Head Start will be of no lasting value to children until we fix our elementary and secondary schools. Until then, money spent on Head Start will continue to be wasted.

Yet the Obama administration remains enthusiastic. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan both want to boost funding for Head Start — that is, to spend more on a program that’s sure to fail. That’s after the president already raised spending on the program from $6.8 billion to $9.2 billion last year.

Instead of throwing more dollars at this proven failure, President Obama might consider throwing his weight behind proven successes. A federal program that pays private-school tuition for poor DC families, for instance, has been shown to raise students’ reading performance by more than two grade levels after just three years, compared to a control group of students who stayed in public schools. And it does so at about a quarter the cost to taxpayers of DC’s public schools.

Sadly, Obama and Duncan have ignored the DC program’s proven success. Neither lifted a finger to save it when Democrats in Congress pulled the plug on its funding last year.

Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect national Democrats to end a Great Society program, even when it’s a proven failure. Perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect them to stand up to teachers’ union opposition and support private-school-choice programs that are proven successes.

Of course, until last week, it seemed unrealistic to expect a Republican to win the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy. If voters get angry enough with federal education politics, national Democrats may start learning from their state-level colleagues who are starting to support effective policies like school choice. Or they may just lose their seats, too.
Posted by Wards of the State on January 23, 2014 at 9:58 AM · Report this
Geocrackr 5
"It's not fair!" the rest of the state will scream. "Why do Seattle-area children get preschool and ours don't?" That's what it will take for Republican legislators to support raising the revenue necessary to make a statewide program possible.

Yes, but you got that backwards - in wingnut reasoning, the next step is to say, "If we don't have it, they can't have it either!" They've proven this time and time again.
Posted by Geocrackr on January 23, 2014 at 9:58 AM · Report this
Goldy 6
@5 I mention that possibility in my post. But that's why it's so important to have a Democratic governor: to veto bullshit.
Posted by Goldy on January 23, 2014 at 10:21 AM · Report this
Um, for someone pointing out how much blue counties pay for the red counties in our state hands down... This isn't about whether or not first start is a benefit. It is an issue of how to pay for it. Tagging the wealthy helps in a small jurisdiction. It doesn't help to address where first start was originally funded from. It was a nationally funded reform. Now that has been drastically cut, jurisdictions are trying to compensate. Should the state compensate. Or should smaller jurisdictions only cover themselves. New York is a very expensive place to live.On average, the wealthy can afford to pay for the impoverished in the rest of New York. The rest of the state is not the same.
Are nation stands in the same crisis. There are states that can afford to subsidize the cost of the federally cut early start programs. There are states then cannot. The states that cannot are often the neediest of these funds.
With the polarization and ineffectiveness of congress, jurisdictions are looking more introspectively how to take care of there own. Jurisdictions with the highest income inequalities are focusing on how to keep the rich richer. The rich are in power. In more moderate, and higher middle class populated jurisdictions, they are looking to keep their money where it came from.
As a result, the Tea party has gain strongholds on both middle class America and the powerful rich. We only want to pay for what immediately benefits us. This consensus only exasperates the disparity.
The New York state vs city is a jurisdictional issue. It is also a political one.
Posted by pussnboots on January 23, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Or you could, you know, wait to have kids til you could afford their education.

You could, if you aren't a liberal who believes the world owes them cradle to grave nanny state bullshit anyway...
Posted by Seattleblues on January 23, 2014 at 10:29 AM · Report this
blip 9
@8, Funny, I never would have thought you were pro-choice.
Posted by blip on January 23, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Report this
Absolutely! I firmly support the right of adults to decide when to have sex and what legal contraceptive is used to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Infanticide to end a life you chose by carelessness or promiscuity or drunkenness to start? Nah, not so much
Posted by Seattleblues on January 23, 2014 at 10:40 AM · Report this
blip 11
@10, If only reality were as simple as your feeble mind imagines it. Bless your heart.
Posted by blip on January 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM · Report this
@Goldstein correction

That's why it's so important to have a Democrat governor, to sign bullshit.

No thanks necessary, Mr. Goldstein. You have to admit, for rational folks it males more sense that way.
Posted by Seattleblues on January 23, 2014 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Why am I not surprised that seattleblue's answer to child poverty is "woman should have kept her legs closed"? In a country where half of pregnancies are unplanned, being opposed to abortion and opposed to aid for impoverished children is, practically speaking, immoral.
Posted by wxPDX on January 23, 2014 at 3:13 PM · Report this
ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ 14
@10: Except that many many unwanted pregnancies have nothing to do with the vices you reference. Plenty of people have birth control fail on them (it happens sometimes) or intentionally get pregnant but find that they're carrying a tragically malformed fetus doomed to a short and painful existence should it be carried to term.
It must be nice to live in your fantasy world where everything happens for a reason and makes sense in black and white and you know best.
Posted by ɥsɐןɯouǝʌ on January 23, 2014 at 9:26 PM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy