President Obama is pushing to expand preschool education and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 from its present $7.20. And naturally, a lot of people think he’s right to want those things.
After all, why shouldn’t all kids have access to preschool at ages 3 and 4? Won’t they do better in school later on as a result of that initial extra boost?
And wouldn’t a lot of people be better off if they were making more money?
Not all, however, agree with that rosy reasoning.
While preschool seems to do no harm, studies show it really doesn’t do all that much good in preparing children for the rigors of academia. Parents like preschool programs because preschool presents to them as guilt-free babysitting. They might think: :It’s school, isn’t it? Taking my child there is doing that child some good while I go out and work to help support the family." And chances are, the state will pay the bill.
Head Start, the best known of the public preschool programs, tries to prepare its charges for kindergarten and school beyond, but in cases where the children don’t get reinforcement in the home it does little good.
For example, if a child is taught the rudiments of English in a Head Start environment, and then the child goes back to home to where another language is spoken, and the child is even teased for trying out English at the house, no gain is made.
What it comes down to is that preschool works when the parents back it up.
Obama’s education people don’t seem to have an idea of what the proposed expansion of preschool would cost, which raises the question of whether it ever can be implemented.
As to the higher minimum wage, it might help some, but hurt others who have to make the sacrifices to free up the extra money needed tio pay it. Some of those sacrifices are people who lose their jobs to free up money to pay those remaining the higher mandated wage.
Minimum-wage increases are best imposed in good times, and we ain’t quite there yet.