Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Gard's "Task Force" Spells Trouble for Kindergarteners

Assembly Speaker John Gard has announced the creation of what he is calling a “Task Force to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of 4-K programs funded by the state.” I wonder if this latest “task force” is going to be a rubber stamp of the Republican desire to eliminate 4-K programs. What? John Gard create a “task force” with a predetermined outcome? Does anyone remember when he stacked the deck for his medical malpractice “task force” only to see them magically decide to punish victims of malpractice?

Wisconsin Republicans in the legislature have a long history of wanting to eliminate 4-K programs. Follow this simple timeline for just a taste of their recent history on the subject:

  • During 2001-2004 budget deliberations Assembly Republicans wanted to eliminate 4-K programs. They finally reached a compromise that did not eliminate it but cut it by $14 million. After significant political pressure, Governor McCallum ended up restoring the cut funds through a veto.

  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last year that Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) co-chairman of the budget committee supported cuts to the 4-year-old kindergarten program. The story quoted him as saying, "I just worry about it being subsidized day care for certain children.”

  • Just over this past weekend the Republican Party of Wisconsin adopted a resolution at their 2006 Convention calling for “the state legislature to eliminate funding of 4-year-old kindergarten.”

So Wisconsin Republicans have this history of threatening the 4-K program and now, before the ink on their resolution is dry, John Gard creates another “task force”? I do believe that I see some writing on the wall here.

Perhaps Gard isn’t paying attention or maybe I'm just being paranoid, but why else would he create a “task force” when the Department of Public Instruction recently released a detailed report on the K-4 program? I think that he may want to ignore that report because it demonstrates the many benefits of the program. Consider some of these benefits revealed in the report:

  • Lower special-education placement
  • Enhanced academic attainment
  • higher probability of graduating from high school and/or college
    higher wages
  • lower probability of involvement in criminal activities
  • higher tax payments by participants
  • lower reliance on welfare

One would think that these things would be music to his ears but perhaps John Gard is hung up on the costs of the 4-K program. If that is the case, we’re in luck! The report deals with this aspect as well by stating the following:

  • The economic impact of investment in the program would offset 68% of the costs (for every dollar spent on the program, 68 cents would be returned in savings).

  • The economic impact of investment when considering only the Milwaukee school district would be 76%. Again, that means that a whopping 76 cents of every dollar spent on 4-K in Milwaukee would be returned in savings!

I’d like to hear Gard name any other program that has such a massive return on investment as this one. When all is considered, the decision to expand the 4-K program should be a slam dunk shouldn’t it? So why the creation of another “task force”? I can’t read Gard’s mind but if the past is any indication, I’d like to send out a red alert to kindergarteners everywhere: Man your battle stations, John Gard is preparing to attack!


XOut said...

Yeah, wish as you may, there is no great evidence supporting four-year old kindergarten.

However, there is a good deal of evidence that indicates a willingness of some parents to stop paying daycare centers for at least a half of a day's worth of caring for their spawn.

There is no such thing as a ciriculum for 4-K in the state of Wisconsin. Parents who bypass 4-K for 5-K will find 4-K graduates attending with them and they will both equally move on to 1st grade.

Thus, 4-K is is nothing more than a daycare supplement for freeloading parents, provided by taxpaying citizens.

Would you like a free breakfast with that?

Cory Liebmann said...

i gave you a link to over 20 pages of a detailed report on the subject. facts and figures. please xout the right wing talking points and give me something of substance, something verifiable. nothing personal, but i'm not going to trust your word on this one.

btw, you may find interesting reading in article x of the wisconsin constitution. i'll give you a hint at what you'll find. free education for all kids age 4-20. my, how progressive of them.

tosa dad said...

hmmm..so to xout my children are nothing but "spawn"? I thought that conservatives were the family values crowd.
Apparently the taxes i pay on my Tosa home and to the State of WI make me a "free loading parent".
Maybe xout should have attended kindergarden, he/she would of learned to spell curriculum correctly. What a complete joke.

badger state said...

Let me get this straight. Those parents with children who elect 4K education for their children are "freeloaders" and not "taxpaying citizens"?? If xout is what passes for conservative non-thought the GOP is in bigger trouble then i suspect it is. Lets hope xout doesnt reproduce "spawn" and foist their tiny brains on the rest of society.
PS Its curriculum, not ciriculum
Perhaps kindergarden would of done some good!

molliemous said...

The 4 year old kindergarten is one of the smartest investments that state government can make.


Just look at Milwaukee's beleaguered Metcalfe Park, where the Educare Center opened in the fall. It's a state-of-the-art prototype for educating newborns to preschoolers, sponsored by the Buffett Family Foundations - the charitable legacy of one of the world's shrewdest investors - with contributions from such corporate Milwaukee stalwarts as Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, Harley-Davidson, Master Lock and the Marshall & Ilsley Foundation.

"There's a new, critical mass of evidence that suggests that if you do preschool programs well, the potential for impacting child development is much greater than if you take those dollars and put them in almost any other kind of program," says Arthur Reynolds, a child-development authority at the University of Minnesota.

Reynolds' long-term studies of Chicago's Child-Parent Centers have found that poor children who went through that intensive preschool program were much more likely to finish high school and less likely to need special education or repeat a grade or get arrested than poor children who didn't attend the centers.

Other studies have shown that proper early education for low-income children leads to lower rates of teen pregnancy, higher earnings and even better health for those children as they grow up. Parents active in their children's programs are known to have steadier employment and higher wages.

"Preschool is a great engine for economic development," Reynolds says.

Reynolds and Judy Temple, an economist at the University of Minnesota, have studied early education experiments and shown that by the time poor children reached their 20s, the benefits for every $1 spent on those programs ranged between about $4 and $10.

Putting it in investment terms, Art Rolnick, senior vice president and research director for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, calculated the inflation-adjusted rate of return to society for one of the programs at 12% a year, about twice the return from the stock market historically.

Better than tax breaks for making movies in Wisconsin too, I’ll betcha.

autonomy said...

The studies that show benefits are for high quality pre-k. In MPS they have on average 30 four year olds per class. This indicates poor quality. Are these children really getting the great benefits that the studies are indicating?

slammer said...

4k may be the biggest lie let out by the DPI. 4k does nothing to help our future citizens, it is just a way to get more money from taxpayers.

yes wisconsin does led the way as far as ACT scores and the DPI leads you believe that 4K will average a 5 point increase in scores but after me thinking if i had 4k my 25 would be a 30, i looked into the facts on the issue. Iowa and Montana finished 2nd and 3rd in average ACT scores and the funny thing about that is they have no state funded 4k programs, secondly the bottom 5 states that scored in the ACT have state funded 4k programs

Also they want you to believe crime rates will go down, or at least in our small town this was discussed, well looking at the facts juvinele crime has gone up alarmingly in the past 10 years, I thought 4K was to curb this.

Let parents be parents and kids be kids, Head Start is already starting to push for 3K. Pretty soon we will have kids ship them to camp after they are born and we will get to see them on weekends

Here is another fact for the people who immedieatly say i hate children and would assume i would rather see them rot. I am in my early 30's and have a 3 and a 1 year old so yes I would love to cut my day care bill in half but i see the facts.

I wrote a little more on the issue below