In the world of political correctness, much is said that isn’t true, and much is unsaid that is true.
Like universal pre-k.
Across New York state, there is a debate raging on the subject of universal pre-k. Basically, the governor and people associated with the education industry want to add a grade to the public school curriculum.
Instead of sending kids to school at 5, with the start of kindergarten, they want kids to go to school at 4, with pre-kindergarten.
Much is being said about this that is untrue, and much is going unsaid about this that is true – and essential to truly understanding and addressing the issues at play.
First of all, what is untrue.
It is patently untrue that beginning school a year earlier will have any impact at all on long-term educational achievement. Neither the individual nor the society will be ultimately educationally advanced by this move.
The failings of New York schools – and they are many – do not arise from education inadequacy among 4-year-olds. It is not a failure to learn colors and shapes at age 4 that so ill prepares New York high-school graduates for vocational or educational success.
Getting a jump on standing in line and listening to “Charlotte’s Web” won’t enhance a student’s ultimate ability to build a house or take out an appendix.
Head Start, the pre-k of an earlier age, has been shown over generations now to have no positive impact on learning whatsoever, and the most positive assessments of early-childhood education show any advantage that may accrue is lost by the third-grade.
Claims that pre-k will cure educational ills are false. It will do nothing to improve educational outcomes in the long run.
What’s being said is untrue.
And what’s going unsaid is true.
Including that pre-k will increase the cost of education by at least 1/13th. If there are 13 grades now, and you add another one, you will need an additional 13th as much staff and space to accommodate these additional students.
Get ready for that tax increase.
Also pre-k will essentially professionalize and unionize daycare, dramatically increasing its cost.
Now, parents and government programs pay for daycare for most 4-year-olds. The median pay for a daycare worker is $9.38 an hour – that works out to $19,510 a year.
On the other hand, when those same 4-year-olds are moved from daycare – where they are now – to pre-k – where the governor says they should be next year – the taxpayer will pay to put those children in the classroom of a certified teacher.
And in New York the average annual income of a certified teacher is $72,708.
Now society pays $19,510. With pre-k, society will pay $72,708.
And even that doesn’t reflect the true disparity of costs. The daycare worker gets bare-bone benefits and no pension. The New York teacher gets Cadillac benefits and one of the most generous pensions in America.
All of which is very good news to the teachers unions, which, via the New York State United Teachers organization, are the most powerful lobbying force in Albany.
Another factor in this matter, of course, is the political popularity of a policy that will reduce by 20 percent the pre-school daycare costs of the average family. Most families use daycare, for children from birth to 5. With pre-k, that is reduced to age 4. All other considerations aside, pre-k shifts one year of that cost from individual families to taxpayers, and that is popular with individual families.
But there’s one last unspoken truth that is the foundational problem.
And that is that the need for pre-k is limited in our society and is driven by the failure of the family.
Pre-k is an effort by the government to save the children of failed cultures from the savagery of their upbringings. Put another way, pre-k is a desperate attempt to limit the social pathologies that arise from out-of-wedlock birth, dysfunctional individuals in parenting rolls, and the irresponsible and narcissistic actions of failed parents.
In New York’s urban cores, and in a patchwork across the rural countryside, the welfare and drug culture combined with 70-percent out-of-wedlock birth rates are producing waves of children so ill-raised and culturally neglected that by the time they get to kindergarten, they are already failed individuals. So scarred by the lack of genuine parenting, home stability and love, they are not learners when they get to school, they are feral disrupters of the educational process sadly fated to an unfolding lifetime of educational and social failure.
That is the cancerous reality pre-k seeks to change.
In that, it is a noble effort worthy of support.
The prospects of success are slim, but the stakes for society are high.
There is a metastasizing culture of failure, dependence, dysfunction and criminality exploding in our society that threatens to disrupt every aspect of American life. There are no more suburbs to flee to, no way to avoid confronting this reality.
And pre-k is an effort to stave off social collapse. The hope is that by getting children out of dysfunctional situations a year earlier, and giving them the structure and normalcy of school, they can be saved.
Pre-k isn’t about more school, it’s about less home.
For some children – the children of functional, traditional families – that is a bad thing. For other children – the children of broken, dysfunctional cultures – it is a godsend.
That’s what we need to acknowledge.
That unspoken truth needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Not as an indictment, but as a wake-up call. Those pockets of our society which have seen the family and the parenting function fall apart must be challenged and warned, for the sake of their children, and the sake of our society.
And until we are honest enough to do that, pre-k, with all its weaknesses and likelihoods of failure, is the best thing we’ve got.