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Proponents of HB-92, The Quality Child Care bill will tell you that its goal is to create a “quality rating” system to allow childcare facilities to receive “incentive” payments from the Wyoming State Government. This sounds very innocent and worthy of the Wyoming Citizens’ support until you truly see this program for what it is, universal preschool.
The first time I read this bill, it became apparent that this was a tactic being used by the “It takes a village to raise a child” crowd, in a stealth effort to introduce universal preschool into Wyoming through deception and masking it as “Quality Child Care.”
A web search on “universal preschools” yielded numerous similarities between universal preschools implemented in other states and Wyoming’s HB92. A number of “battles” are currently taking place in other states over similar programs. These fellow anti-universal preschool soldiers have agreed that HB92 is universal preschool in disguise and have stated that HB92 is nothing more than an expansion of the Wyoming public schools into the preschool level. The proponents of this bill are masking their agenda of “universal preschool” because they know that the good people of this state would never stand for a Vermont/California-like universal preschool bill. Therefore their strategy is to hood-wink well intentioned legislators into believing their only concern is for the “quality” of childcare in Wyoming.
An article entitled “Universal Preschool,” dated July 20, 2006 appearing on the Democratic Leadership Council web site lists the qualifications in detail for the Georgia and Oklahoma universal preschool programs. These qualifications are extremely similar to those of the Wyoming Quality Child Care Program. Both require teachers to work toward a CDA or Associates Degree in Childhood Development. Higher level “teachers” must acquire a Bachelors Degree in Education with Birth through eight year-old w/ early childhood endorsement or a Bachelors Degree in Family and Consumer Sciences w/ Childhood Development option. These CDA, Associate Degrees, and Bachelor Degrees are similar qualifications for Universal Preschool programs. This information draws only one conclusion, which is that Wyoming’s “Quality Child Care” bill is indeed a masked version of Universal Preschool.
The most noteworthy member of the Democratic Leadership Council is former first lady and now Senator Hillary Clinton. Remember, she is behind the notion that “It takes a village (the government) to raise the children”. The Democratic Leadership Council would have us to believe that Georgia’s and Oklahoma’s universal preschool programs are thriving. Yet numerous studies refute such a claim.
Current studies show this type of program has not helped children gain anything beyond the third grade. Georgia and Oklahoma have had 4 year old preschools in place since 1993 and 1998 respectively. To their detriment, Quebec has also implemented universal preschool.
Georgia: Georgia’s universal preschool program started out being funded by the state lottery. A Goldwater Institute report states that, after 10 years, Georgia's universal preschool program has served over 300,000 children at a cost of $1.15 billion, and children's test scores are unchanged according to the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), which is considered the nation’s report card.
Oklahoma: The NAEP also found that since Oklahoma implemented their Universal preschool Kindergarten that Oklahoma’s test scores have not only not improved, but they have actually lost 4 percentage points and become the worst performer of all states at the fourth grade reading level between 1992 and 2005.
Quebec: According to the Reason Foundation Report, Quebec's attempt at a universal preschool program was originally supposed to cost $230 million over five years, but now gobbles $1.7 billion every year. Pierre Lefebvre, an economics professor at Universite du Quebec, has just completed a study comparing 4- to 5-year-olds in Quebec with kids elsewhere in Canada and found that Quebec kids have no better scores on the Peabody vocabulary test -- the most widely used indicator of school readiness.
The proponents of this bill are trying to implement and fund a program that has already been proven to be a failure elsewhere. Texas looked into a similar bill and requested The Texas Public Policy Foundation to do a feasibility study. This study, titled “The Early Bird Misses the Worm,” January, 2006 concluded the following: “Commonly cited cost-benefit calculations result from flawed experiments that included only the most disadvantaged children, have never been replicated, and would be impractical for large-scale implementation. Positive ‘investment returns,’ while questionable even for disadvantaged children, would be even less positive for children as a whole.”
“Existing universal preschool programs have failed to demonstrate significant benefits, and some even exhibit adverse consequences.”
“An expanded government role would force many private providers out of the market, thereby limiting choices for consumers.”
The Wyoming Quality Child Care Task Force is also basing its advocacy of their masked universal preschool program on a study prepared by the Rand Corporation. Recently the “Reason Foundation” did an analysis of the Rand Corporation’s study and identified some major flaws. Quoting the Reason Foundation, “Using RAND's own data and alternative assumptions based on the studies they reference, it is easy to demonstrate that universal preschool generates losses of 25 to 30 cents for every dollar spent. And these losses are calculated before including any of the additional universal preschool program costs that RAND ignored in its analysis.”
So now we have the evidence from previous attempts in other parts of the nation that implementing universal preschools or expanding public schools to 4 year olds or younger is not only not cost efficient, but is also not progressive or helpful enough beyond the third grade.
The proponents of Quality Child Care in Wyoming want the citizens to believe that their program will benefit our children well beyond the fourth grade and into their adult lives. This assumption is also based on faulty data used in the Rand Corporation’s report. The Wyoming proponents fail to report that the reason the Rand’s study seemed to offer such a positive result is because it was done in Chicago’s inner city and included basic parenting classes. Therefore, the study does not give enough credit to the children doing well as a result of parental involvement, which in turn is due to the parenting classes provided to them. Rural Wyoming and inner city Chicago have very little in common. It is highly suspicious to use such data as validation for Wyoming’s “Quality Child Care” program.
As a result of liberal social activism, the Universal Preschool trend is moving across the nation. In June of 2006 the people of California voted down Rob Reiner’s Proposition 82, which was an attempt at just such a program. Recently, Massachusetts’ Governor Mitt Romney vetoed a universal preschool program. And in 2002 the District of Columbia attempted to pass a mandatory pre-school bill for all three year-olds. The bill failed.
The costs of Universal Preschool are consistently and significantly underestimated, and the long-term saving “estimates” are based on irrelevant studies and purposefully refuse to take into account offsetting increased costs to the economy. It is safe to say that Wyoming should not expect to benefit at all from implementing such a program. In fact, this program for universal preschool, masked as “Quality Child Care” represents a potentially crushing, rapid expansion of the state’s financial liability. Citizens of Wyoming should contact their legislators and request that they vote no to the funding of this deceptive bill in the 2007 Legislature.
You can contact your Wyoming legislators at the following links:
When you go to the town hall meetings, watch for these key words: teachers, bachelor’s degree, early childhood development certification, and certification in early childhood education. If this bill is about quality child-care and not education, you should not be hearing any of those words.
Below are many links I have used in my research. I also have three more studies on PDF format that I cannot put here, but would be willing to e-mail them to anyone interested.