Friday, April 18, 2008

Budget Deal Ignores the Real Problem

So the state legislators, or rather, leaders, have swung another back room deal with the Governor. Isn't this the same process that got us the deficits when Napolitano made and reneged on commitment after commitment?

As a result of weak compromises, the legislature continues to fund irresponsible programs like the governor's pet all-day kindergarten program. It wasn't too many years ago that the legislature talked about cutting half-day kindergarten and the citizens who complained were those griping about losing their babysitters for half a day. Not a single letter to the editor suggested it would hurt education. In fact, the fact that some top states with continually high test scores have no kindergarten at all, putting the responsibility for school preparation on the parents, suggests that maybe letting parents take some responsibility for their childrens' educations might be a good thing. Now, taxpayers get to pay for babysitting for the full day, and because the budget doesn't get the full debate it deserves, we will continue to pay for it in the midst of looming multi-billion dollar deficits.

The real problem here is the lack of leadership that acknowledges the binge spending that occurred the past several years and has the courage to roll back unnecessary programs that were added. And Democrats who hide behind the "we're not in charge" excuse simply acknowledge their own lack of will to solve the real problem.

Whittling off a little here and there is like the commercial where the workers put the chewing gum in the hole to stop the leak in the dam. This election cycle offers hope for new legislators who will openly debate nice-but-not-necessary programs and be tough enough to remove them to fix the real problem. As voters, we should take take advantage of it.

3 comments:

roger said...

Hmmm who made the backroom deal. Last year it was Senator Tim Bee. This year, hmmm, it was Senator Tim Bee.

No one can hang the state of our state deficit on Napolitano unless they also hang it on Tim Bee.

roger said...

By the way, more on the subject of your post. Do you have any idea how expensive day care is? First of all, Kindergarten is not babysitting. It is school and studies have proven time and again that the earlier we get kids into school, the less likely they are to become deviant, the more likely they are to read at a higher level, etc .etc etc.

Not all people have a good wife to keep in the home watching the kids while the man works. Not all people have the money to shell out what is between $700 and $2000 a month for preschool and daycare.

Maybe we should let out some of the clearly non-violent criminals that we have in jail right now, instead. It costs billions to fill our prisons and jails, which we continue to do.

AZAce said...

Roger,

As always, you inject plenty of humor into your post.

I'm not excusing anyone involved in the "backroom deal." I'm simply pointing out that the process certainly did not lead to a positive outcome and doesn't seem likely to do so now.

As for kindergarten, studies actually show that any gains resulting from early childhood education are quickly erased by the the third and fourth grades. Consequently, when you cut through the nonsense, Head Start (a well-researched early ed program) consistently shows up as a dismal failure. It DOES however, provide tremendous benefit to severely disadvantaged and neglected children who are deprived of even minimal healthy interaction with parents. This is where early programs truly can make a difference. Kindergarten has never shown the kind of benefit to children as you claim.

In New Hampshire, the state found that the vast majority of parents could prepare their children for elementary school quite easily in 30-60 minutes a day. Consequently, the half day program with large groups of children wasn't creating any advantage for the high cost required to run it in the schools. Amazingly, they consistently outperform almost everyone else who provides state-run kindergarten. Again, if you read the Tucson newspapers, you read the editorials and quotes from parents complaining that they needed somebody to watch their kids. Not one cited education as the concern for losing or expanding kindergarten. I think there's a message there.