December 17, 2008

Obama Loves The Little Children

Early education advocates are giddy as a bunch of preschoolgirls at Barack Obama's advocacy of expanded federal support for early education and preschool. From what I read in the New York Times, it seems every president since Nixon has hated little children. Who knew? Alright, maybe Clinton helped a little.

Obama's $10 Billion Promise Stirs Hope in Early Education [nytimes]


Da da dum, here he is: SuperObama, here to save the day. Good luck finding the pesos to pay for more government involvement in education (yet another place where local rule would do so much better than the feds).

Where's my bailout? Where's my handout? In Texas, I gotta pay for pre-school since my kid speaks English and we both have jobs.

The above may be a bit harsh but I get the sentiment. I would add that supporting a $10 billion federal program doesn't mean Obama loves kids any more than the next guy. Some people who truly love children may still violently object to aspects of one program or another.

During the campaign (primary and general election) I was encouraged by Obama's comments on education in that he seemed willing to say things that other politicians rarely do. He placed some blame on unions and parents...specifically asking parents to 'turn of the television.' Many of our greatest education failures cannot be solved with either money or federal intervention. In fact, taking a hard line with unions could even save money.

If Obama were to use his fame and new job to speak regularly to parents, telling them to turn off the TV and spend time reading and playing with young children, it could go a lot further than any federal program. Of course, asking citizens to act responsibly never got a politician very far.

yeah, the Super Obama Syndrome is alive and well--and has some proponents in the early childhood education world and the NYT. The article seemed to be more about the industry's [sic] hope, more than the reality of what Obama or anyone at the federal level can--or should do. And the question of who should be helped by it, to what benefit, was unanswered. That said, there's a case to be made--or at least people are making it and have been for a while--that early intervention where it is missing--ie, in poor, non-english, single parent, whatever--households is extremely cost-effective overall. If it were as clearcut as choosing between paying X for preschools now or 10X for prisons in a few years, only a Dick would choose the latter. Cheney or Nixon, that is. So it must be more complicated than that.

Also, the Times didn't really get too bogged down in the hyperlocal morass of preschool, etc. That there are 22 funding streams in CA, for example.

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