Thursday, March 03, 2011

Nanny Day Care

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is proposing that the state pony up $33 million to help low income families send their kids to all-day kindergarten. As with most government programs this would be far from the end of state's financial committment as the Strib reports in a story called All-day kindergarten nears 'tipping point':

State data shows that it would cost at least $128 million to fund all-day, every-day kindergarten for all students.

"The more we fund it for the poor kids, the more the other parents will not want to pay for theirs," Greiling said.

Four years ago, a bill to put $106 million more toward kindergarten failed to get enough support. If legislators nix this year's plan, state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said the push will continue.

"This is actually a core function that we should be providing and fully supporting as a state," she said. "This push by the governor sets a whole new priority around it. We need to invest earlier in our children."

Investing in our children to the tune of an additional $128 million a year. Now, who could be against that?

The truth is that primary driver behind the state funding all-day kindergarten has nothing to do with improving educational performance or investing in our children. It's about subsidising day care costs for single-parent families or for families where both parents work. There are merits to the argument that the state should in some way support single-parent or low income families with their day care costs (and I believe programs already exist to do just that).

But make no mistake about the fact that when (not if) this all-day kindergarten program is expanded so that we're investing in all of our children, the taxpayers of Minnesota will be paying the day care freight for dual-income families in Woodbury and Eden Prairie. Perhaps this will have a stimulative economic effect as these families will now be able to pick up an extra jet ski for their cabin up north. Let's just not pretend that all-day kindergarten is anything more than all-day day care.