Texas Republican Lawmakers Cave On Pre-K (Free Daycare)
By Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D. July 30, 2019
Texas Democrats are euphoric over their taxpayer funded Pre-K victory. There has been a decades-long march toward government full day Pre-K and, during the 2019 session, a Republican led legislature handed it to Democrats on a silver platter. Through the massive education spending bill (HB 3), Pre-K (free daycare) for low income children, including illegal aliens, has now become the law of the land in Texas.
This is a Trojan horse for universal Pre-K. Since government programs never remain voluntary or small, we can expect to see government Pre-K for ALL children passed in upcoming legislative sessions.
Public education already is the largest single expenditure in the Texas budget. With the addition of Pre-K, even more funds must be allocated for education, pushing Texas toward a fiscally uncertain future.
Pre-K has always been opposed by Republicans for several reasons: we believe that young children should be under the care of their parents and not the government, we believe in limited government, and we are opposed to cradle to grave government programs of any kind.
Then why did Republicans agree to include the program in the spending bill? It certainly could not have been because of its benefits to young children in education or behavioral outcome!
Pre-K Aligned with Common Core
Although Texas passed a law prohibiting the state or local districts from using Common Core standards, Common Core is alive and well in Texas and there is no enforcement mechanism in the law to stop it.
The Texas Education Code requires that high quality Pre-K not use national curriculum standards developed by the "Common Core State Standards Initiative." However, under Every Student Succeeds Act, the federal government now controls public Pre-K through national early childhood standards, assessment, and data collection, ESSA requires alignment to Head Star and Child Development Block Grants which are tied to national preschool standards and psychosocial standards.
With the addition of Pre-K to Texas public education, Republicans have subjected toddlers to Common Core and federal testing and data mining. With the addition of Pre-K to Texas public education, Republicans have subjected toddlers to Common Core with federal testing and data collection.
Facts vs. Myths About Pre-K
More than 60 years of research – including those about Head Start – show that early formal schooling destroys a child’s learning ability and can even be detrimental to the behavioral development of mainstream children. According to Lilian G. Katz, Professor Emeritus of the University of Illinois, early formal instruction, especially for boys, “increases their tendency to distance themselves from the goals of schools, and to drop out of it, either mentally or physically.”
Advocates argue that 85 percent of a child’s brain development occurs in the first five years so that if children do not attend Pre-K, educational intervention is more difficult and expensive and less effective. Pediatricians disagree, saying the brain continues to develop, remodel and refine until age 25 or later. Because the early elementary school years are major development years, children are able to learn four times as much material in a regular school year as in Pre-K.
A 2018 study by Harvard Medical School researchers reported a dramatic increase in the number of ADHD diagnoses among children with about one-third occurring in children under six. Play-based kindergartens and preschools have been replaced largely by daily drilling of literacy and math skills and giving and preparing for tests. Yet children learn best and are more creative through free play, not formal instruction during lengthy sedentary periods.
Nearly every study, including the 2015 Vanderbilt and 2018 Brookings studies, over the past 60 years has reported “fade out” or loss by the second or third grade of any advantage gained by attendance at a government sponsored Pre-K. On the contrary, their academic performance was lower than those students who did not attend Pre-K.
On the social emotional level, children who had attended Pre-K exhibited more long term behavioral problems than their non-Pre-K educated peers, including more aggression, bullying, and lack of control.
Destruction of the Traditional Family
Pre-K is understood by advocates as being free “daycare.” The hours coincide with those of the workday just as does K-12 schooling, allowing parents to be in the workforce without having to privately pay for daycare. After the day’s formal instruction is over, taxpayer funded extracurricular activities fill the gap, leaving little time for children to be cared for and educated by their parents.
Deterioration of the traditional family is being pushed by Democrats and democrat socialists. The creation of and expansion of the welfare state coincides with the deterioration of families.
Leon Trotsky, a major communist/socialist, in his 1937 Revolution Betrayed wrote, “The revolution made a heroic effort to destroy the so-called ‘family hearth.’” The state would control the raising of children through social institutions such as kindergartens, schools, and athletic organizations, hollowing out the family unit.
The conclusion is that socialist philosophy seeks to destroy the traditional family and expand the role of the state.
Republicans agreed to implement a program that is unnecessary, harmful to children, creates unnecessary expenditures for taxpayers, and hands over parental control of their youngsters to the government that is contributing to destruction of the family. Republicans violated their oath to uphold the Constitution and failed to uphold conservative values found in the Texas Republican Party platform (Planks 53, 55, 62, and 131).
To repeat my question, why did Republicans agree to add the Pre-K grade to our Texas public education system in violation of Republican values and despite the numerous studies showing the harmful effects?