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The Case Against Universal Preschool in California

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Publication Date: February 2006

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Author(s): Lisa Snell

Topic: Education (Education policy and planning)

Type: Brief

Coverage: California

Abstract:

The California Preschool for All Act, filed with the state attorney general on June 20, 2005, calls for a voluntary, half-day preschool program that would be offered free of charge to California's four-year olds. While this sounds like
a laudable goal, this voluntary program would change the
current structure of the mixed-provider market that includes
a diverse group of public and private preschools into a state controlled monopoly. Universal preschool will expand government provision of education, destroy the private market of preschool, and expand the power of teachers' unions. Taxpayers would be forced to subsidize not only the poor but also the middle class and wealthy. Supporters radically underestimate the net cost of this new program, which would require mandatory credentialing under the auspices of the bureaucracy of the county superintendents of schools. And high costs are only the beginning. The current private preschool market offers an array of choices.

Government preschool is a formulated, one-size-fits-all approach to education that institutionalizes young children at their most impressionable ages. This is a move backwards that should be avoided.