Iowa, one of the few states that does not have a budget crisis, actually has a $318 million surplus that they want use to give corporations a tax break. The problem is that next year they will need that surplus to keep other programs intact. Therefore, in order to pay for the tax break, they will have to make some cuts and preschool is first on their chopping block. The bill also cuts family-planning services and attempts to make state employees pay more for their health care premiums.
“Philosophy” vs Facts
The benefits of preschool are well-documented. Preschool helps prepare young children for school by advancing their literacy, social skills and overall school-readiness. Iowa Republican and House Appropriations Chairman, Scott Raecker, doesn’t see it this way. Whether to spend money on preschool or on tax breaks is a “philosophical debate we’ll have to have,” he said.
The Rand Corporation, which is certainly on the business tax break side of any philosophical debate, begs to differ. Their research shows that every dollar spent on high-quality preschool programs generates a benefit to society ranging from $1.80 to $17.07. “Early childhood intervention programs are designed to mitigate the factors that place children at risk of poor [educational] outcomes.” They also found that the more money that was spent of preschool programs, the greater the benefits.
Of course, no one really needs to get so upset by all this. Kids from upper middle class to wealthy families will continue to get quality preschool, along with quality K-12 education. If the free public schools and inexpensive preschools in their communities aren’t up to their high standards, they will simply spend the money to send their kids elsewhere. They will be sufficiently educated to run their parents’ businesses and take on the high-tech demands of the future.
The rest of our children will also still be educated, although perhaps not to the degree we think they should. And they, too, will be sufficiently educated, not to run the economy, but to buy and consume its products and services and to take on the low skill jobs that are available. If not, then the bosses can always hire immigrant labor from countries that invest more in educating their youth.