Centralizing Preschool

UC Berkeley professor of education and public policy, Bruce Fuller, takes on “Big Government” Democrats and their universal preschool proposals in the San Francisco Chronicle: What worries many parents is that old-line Democrats are now extending the logic to younger and younger children. Take Rob Reiner, movie director and Democratic activist, who virtuously hopes to equalize children’s opportunity to benefit from affordable, high-quality preschool, now the privilege of affluent families and a slice of low-income parents. But his ballot initiative, which Californians will vote on in June, would only fund neighborhood programs that offer a school-like curriculum “aligned with statewide academic standards.” By running an additional $2.4 billion a year through the school system, many of the state’s 14,000-plus nonprofit preschools could be forced out of business. . . . At the very moment that many education reformers are creating more diverse and decentralized organizations — such as charter schools and small high schools — universal-preschool advocates seek to narrow options for America’s pluralistic range of families, even shrinking how we think about children’s splendid dimensions of development, when they should be trying to broaden its appeal among America’s families. It’s an ironic, rather dreary strategy coming from a political party that once celebrated human variety and colorful expression.