MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry’s words in a new “Lean Forward” ad are breathtaking:
We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility, and not just the households’, then we start making better investments.
Reason.com accurately questions whether this is “the creepiest show promo MSNBC has ever run.” Yet, on Wednesday, the Obama Administration will release a budget that lays the groundwork for this exact type of cradle-to-grave, “it takes a village,” literal nanny state that MSNBC dreams of.
Early reports indicate that the White House will propose increasing taxes in order to grow federal intervention into the care of the youngest children. Congressional Quarterly (subscription required) reports that “a senior administration official confirmed Friday that an increase in the tobacco tax will be proposed to partly offset the cost of providing free, universal preschool for all children from low- and moderate-income families.”
Despite what those on the left like MSNBC would like us to believe, expansive government preschool and child care programs can never replace the benefits that strong families and parental care provide. And families understand that. Eighty percent of mothers who work part-time—as surveyed by the Pew Research Center—indicated that they would prefer to stay home when their children are young. Only about 5 percent of mothers of children under 18 who currently work part-time indicated that full-time work would be their ideal scenario.
Families who want access to preschool and child care have access to those options. Across the country today, approximately three-quarters of the nation’s four-year-olds are enrolled in some form of public or private preschool. While 45 percent are enrolled in publicly funded programs, another 29 percent are enrolled in private preschool. Low-income families currently have access to taxpayer-funded preschool and child care through state programs and the federal Head Start program.
The Obama Administration’s push for universal preschool would require significant new spending while subsidizing middle-income and upper-income families—with no new benefit to low-income parents.
Moreover, expanding public preschool and child care at any level of government will increase costs for taxpayers by encouraging more participation in public programs, undermining private providers, and thereby reducing American families’ preschool choices.
Excellence in early education requires abandoning the presumption that preschool for all is preferable to family care. More government preschool is not the answer to helping America’s children succeed, and any efforts to expand federal preschool initiatives should be opposed.