Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Clinton's Hostile Preschool Takeover"- I.B.D. Editorial

Perhaps we should call her Comrade Clinton. In a stunning editorial in Investor's Business Daily, it was reported that Senator Hillary Clinton has introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would effectively destroy the last remaining bastion of primary educational freedom in America by providing the authorization and funding for states to take over all privately run preschools within their respective borders. This bill would go far beyond other proposals in states like New Jersey, which would simply expand the existing public school systems to the preschool level while leaving privately run preschools to operate as a parallel network much as private K-12 schools do now (that many private preschools would be forced to close or shrink under the "competitive" pressure of the new coercively [taxpayer] funded public preschools is another issue).

As the editorial explains, the private preschool network is "a colorful, mixed-market blend of local centers, from Montessori programs to preschools run inside large companies." Being relatively free from government interference, the preschool industry is completely open to the kind of competition, innovation, and entrepreneurialism that is typical of free markets. The rights and responsibilities for choosing the type of preschool their child should attend rests where it properly belongs, with the parents. The free market set-up has fostered an explosion of excellent preschools that operate under radically different educational theories from the (Deweyite) public schools, such as the Montessori schools with it's emphasis on early cognitive and conceptual child development. (To be sure, not all preschools are of high quality, and some are downright destructive, such as the progressive preschools with their primary goal of fostering in the child a mindless conformity to the group. See Ayn Rand's The Comprachicos).

In the name of "equal opportunity for all children", Senator Clinton proposes to usurp the rights of parents in regard to early childhood education, while strangling and ultimately destroying the preschool industry under draconian mandates such as the requirement for four year college degrees to teach preschool. And it is the better preschool programs, such as Montessori, which are the main targets here, as the mediocre preschools would fold quite nicely into the public school monopoly.

If there is still any doubt about the authoritarian designs of Hillary Clinton and of the American Left, or of the evil of egalitarianism, this bill should end it. Will the homeschooling movement be next? And the K-12 private schools? If this bill passes into law, the precedent will be set.

This is pure Stalinism! Consider Clinton's book about child-rearing "It Takes A Village", replace the the cozy-sounding word "Village" with "State", and you will expose the naked agenda of the Left's leading spokesperson. Her husband, Bill Clinton, while President spoke of " 'the young people of the United States' ", when he said " 'We're their parents, and it is up to us [the state?] to protect them.' Hillary Clinton told Newsweek, 'There is no such thing as other people's children.' "(David Boaz, Cato Institute, TCSdaily.com, as quoted in the May 21, 2007 issue of Forbes magazine).

Senator Hillary Clinton has laid down a gauntlet. She has brazenly declared that the primary responsibility for the education of American children rests with the state, not the parents. But simply opposing her plan will not be enough. The entire concept of a government-run compulsory public school system must be challenged, because there is no way one can fight her plan without rejecting the principle upon which it is based. "Ideas can only be fought by means of better ideas" (Ayn Rand).

While this bill can conceivably be defeated in the short term, the only way to stop an eventual state takeover of all education is to move toward the complete privatization of the public school system (I.E., the separation of school and state). A starting point can be to call for vouchers or tax credits which would enable parents to divert their education tax dollars to the school that they choose for their children.

It will be a long and tough battle against an entrenched and powerful establishment and the inertia of millions of parents too used to evading the responsibility of giving serious thought to their children's education. But it will be for the sake of the motivated and independent parents, as well as an issue (education) too important to be left in the hands of power-seeking politicians, that the battle must be fought. The public educational process will require a courageous and principled (I.E., uncompromising) campaign. But the fight will be worth it.

Mike Zemack

8 comments:

Christine said...

These are critical thoughts you have outlined. I believe homeschooling would be in danger if Hillary took office. Thanks for bringing this to the forefront. Great blog, Dad!

Sue said...

As Kayla is entering Montessori this issue is at the forefront of our minds. We have chosen Montessori purposefully and it's what we want for the girls. These issues need to be looked at by all parents.

Great Blog Dad! Welcome!

Mama Bear June said...

Count me in as one of the warriors ready for battle. :-) Welcome to the blogosphere.

ivegot5 said...

Maybe I sound uninformed but I wonder if you could explain how economics would play into this. I would love to choose a better ( and by better I mean one that is innovative and truly understands the differences in children and how they learn best) preschool for my children, but am financially unable to do so. I know there are lots of parents out there like me who care desperately about our kids and want more and different education for them than we had. Would vouchers help us with this? Thank you for your time.

LeftCoastOnlooker said...

As I read these posts & the accompanying editorials & hear these things on tv / news, I remember an exercise from a Russian history course I took -- examine the Bolshevik Party platform of 1917 / 1918 - how many connections can you draw b/t the BP platform & the America we live in today? -- one of those assignments that stuck with us.

Mike Zemack said...

Ivegot5

Thank you for your interest. Education is one of my signature issues, and I expect to write extensively on it, but I would like to respond to your comments here.

You have brought up a good question. There are basically two ways to implement school choice;
1. Vouchers. This approach was advocated by the late Milton Friedman, the famous economist whose Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation fights for this cause. The money spent on each child in your state each year from all sources would go not to the local public school your child would attend, but instead go directly to the parent or guardian in the form of a voucher (or, as I prefer, an education savings account, or ESA). This voucher or ESA would be used toward whatever school you choose for your child, public or private.

For example, the per-child cost of public education in my state averages about $14,000 per year. Each year, that money would still go to the local public school if that’s what I choose for my child. However,if I were to choose a different school, public or private, the funds would be used to pay the tuition to that school and my local public school would receive nothing. Each child in my family would have his or her own voucher or ESA in the amount of $14,000. I would add a roll-over feature that would allow any unspent funds to accumulate year over year, which could be used toward college, trade school, etc. after graduation.

2. Tax credits. This approach would allow a parent to claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against whatever portion of his total tax bill (property, income, or sales etc) goes to fund education. I would extend these credits to include close relatives who fund a grandchild, niece, nephew, or sibling’s education. Remember, this is a tax credit, not a deduction, so you would receive a full refund for your education bills up to the limit of your tax liability.

3. Perhaps a combination of the two would work best in a state like mine which doesn’t have public pre-school; i.e., vouchers or ESAs for K-12, and tax credits for pre-school.

There are numerous issues related to the restructuring of America’s school system not covered here, such as the government’s roll, separation of church and state (a crucial principle to be preserved), etc, but I hope this brief outline is helpful. And again, thank you for your interest in my new blog.

Mike Zemack

Christine said...

I would add that the money for each child could also be kept by the parent if they choose to homeschool! I am drooling over the kind of educational benefits (trips, books, etc.) I could provide my children if I had thousands of dollars each year to put toward homeschooling them. I would even be able to stay home full time instead of juggle working-at-home/church, schooling and home life.

Mike Zemack said...

Answer to Christine:

I have a rather expansive concept of what educational freedom means. As I stated in my answer to ivegot5, only a brief statement was presented at that time. But you could safely infer that homeschooling would be covered under the term "private school".