AP runs a story highlighting the harsh realities of state budgets: everyone out there is slashing stuff, and pre-K is such an easy target. As several of the quoted experts point out, pre-K levels the playing field for poor kids and saves us all money in the long run by bringing kids up to speed who’d otherwise need special attention at great expense later.
But you can’t spend what you don’t have, and as states are being bled dry and the federal government has yet to see a weapons system it doesn’t feel it must have, there’s a real problem. And nothing puts it into harsher perspective than hearing a no doubt well-intentioned bureaucrat from the Dept. of Ed make the claim:
The key, said Jacqueline Jones with the U.S. Department of Education’s early learning office, is making states believe that pre-k is part of the education package rather than something they do only during flush times.
Yes, Jacqueline, that’s very nice. But while your bosses on The Hill are busy blowing billions of dollars on toys the Pentagon doesn’t even want, the states don’t have the luxury of spending money they don’t have. I don’t think the problem is states “believing” in pre-K, I think it’s a question of hard budgetary realities. I believe the word we’re looking for here is “unfunded mandate”: if you insist that pre-K is a key part of education, then put your money where your mouth is. And if you can’t get the money to fund eductation because it was all spent on depleted uranium land mines in Afghanistan or some equally worthy cause, then the time has perhaps come to question the priorities of our hippie-in-chief and his fellow peacenicks. With his approval rating dropping like a bunker buster on the job, maybe he should revisit his approach to hope & change.
Of course, that’s assuming that anyone in the Administration or on The Hill actually genuinely sincerely really gives a shit about the educational prospects of the increasing number of increasingly marginalized poor kids in this country. While they shriek in horror in mock concern for the unborn, The Republicans have yet to see an actual kid that they cared about — kids don’t vote, they cost money, they have to be dragged to church, they listen to inappropriate music — what’s there to like about them? And since most of the current crop of Democrats are really just Republicans who don’t have the courage to come out of the closet and switch parties, I think it’s safe to say that the kids are shit out of luck on this one.