Friday, June 08, 2007

Gov. Rendell's "Pre-K Counts" vs Pre-K Choices: Make Your Voice Count

Pennsylvania Family Council


Gov. Rendell's "Pre-K Counts" vs Pre-K Choices:  Make Your Voice Count

There is a substantial push in the legislature right now to pass "Pre-K Counts," a government-funded pre-school program. The program begins "small" ($75 million), but its lead proponents, including Gov. Ed Rendell, desire this program to quickly expand to all 3 and 4 year-olds, at a projected cost to the taxpayer billions of dollars.  If "Pre-K Counts" passes this year, that will happen, and soon.   And real tax relief for families will not.

Religious discrimination.  Despite public assurances to the contrary, religious pre-school providers will not be able to be part of this program unless they fully cleanse themselves of every vestige of religious expression.  No prayer, no religious teaching, no religious symbols or emblems on the wall.

In effect, religious pre-schools, which comprise a large percentage of available pre-schools in the Commonwealth, will be shut out, in much the same way as in the K-12 system.  State Deputy Secretary of Education Harriet Dichter has confirmed that religious providers must not teach religion in their pre-schools if they desire to participate in "Pre-K Counts".  Leading "Pre-K Counts" proponent Joan Benso has made similar admissions in the media.

Goodbye parental choice.  "Pre-K Counts" severely reduces parental choice for those who need pre-school child care.  Religious providers will be cut out, and the remaining options will be homogenized, all forced to comply with arbitrary curriculum mandates and teacher hiring standards that will raise costs and provide no significant benefit.   Government bureaucrats will decide what children need - not parents.  And the higher taxes that will result from "Pre-K Counts" will force more families to choose pre-school, as more will require a second family income.

False figures, faulty proposal.  Sadly, promoters of "Pre-K Counts" are using questionable statements to advance their agenda.  Most notably, they repeatedly say that for every dollar spent on high-quality pre-school, the taxpayer will save $17.  Not true.  The Michigan study they site as proof only dealt with a small number of very poor, severely at-risk children who were given very expensive pre-school care.  It's a comparison of apples and oranges.

What's worse, though, is that the Michigan study says the savings would be $7.16, not the outlandish $17 being loudly touted by the "Pre-K Counts" boosters.  We cannot figure out where the $17 figure came from.  Dyslexia?   Neither number has any bearing on reality for what's being proposed here in Pennsylvania.

The lobbying battle.  These discredited claims are still being touted even today in the halls of our legislature. "Pre-K Counts" is being lobbied hard by well-funded special interests, many who stand to gain financially from its passage.  The Rendell administration is pushing it aggressively. 

The voice of families, the voice of taxpayers, must be heard in this debate.  Expansion of religious discrimination in the education realm must be stopped.  Parental options must be preserved.  Budget-busting proposals like this must be resisted.

A great option.  Pennsylvania already has a great Pre-K business tax-credit program that effectively targets the neediest children, respects parental choice and religious liberty, and costs the taxpayer a small fraction of what "Pre-K Counts" costs.  We need to keep Pre-K Choices available for all families - and not adopt the one-size-fits-all "Pre-K Counts" proposal.

Make your voice heard.  If you agree with me, please make your voice heard to your Pennsylvania State Representative and State Senator.  Join us for a press conference Wednesday, June 13th, at Noon at the Capitol Rotunda, and bring your young children!

  1. Call Your State Representative & State Senator - Use Our Citizen Action Center
  2. Join us for a Capitol Rotunda Press Conference Weds., June 13 at Noon

Call 1-800-FAMILY-1 for Details

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