boy painting, preschool

A boy paints at an easel set up in his state-funded preschool classroom in East Palo Alto. March 2013. Credit: Lillian Mongeau, EdSource Today

California could nearly double its spending on public preschool with an influx of federal funding if the president’s proposal to significantly increase the money available for early childhood programs passes Congress, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday.

Since President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in January, early learning has become the centerpiece of the administration’s education policy agenda. The president has proposed a federal program, funded by an increased tobacco tax, that would partner with states to expand access to and quality of public preschool programs for low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds. The program would also provide funding for expanded infant and toddler care. Both initiatives would cost $75 billion in new early learning funds over the next decade.

If approved for participation in the Preschool for All program, California would be eligible for an additional $334 million in federal preschool funding with a required state match of $33.4 million, according to federal estimates. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that this would allow the state to serve an additional 41,000 children. The department did not specify if these children would be served by a full- or half-day program. In 2011-2012, California spent $386 million to provide half-day state preschool to more than 200,000 children.

The information released Tuesday offers the first glimpse at what individual states could expect to receive under the president’s proposal – which faces significant obstacles in a fractured Congress. The funding estimate is based on a state’s current population of 4-year-olds in families living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, or $47,100 annually for a family of four. California ranks near the top of all states on that measure, with nearly 1.4 million qualifying 4-year-olds, according to Children Now, a national organization advocating for more public funding for children’s issues.

The current state program is not fully funded. Only about half of eligible 4-year-olds are enrolled, said Deborah Kong, the federal policy analyst at Early Edge California, an advocacy organization focused on increasing services for children from infants to age 8. “We’re not even serving the number of kids who are eligible,” she said. “Any sort of dent we can make in that 50 percent would be huge.”

The president’s proposal, called Preschool For All, would make another $20.9 million available to California for home-visiting programs. The programs send nurses, social workers or other professionals to the homes of low-income parents of infants and toddlers to teach parents about early language acquisition, nutrition and safe sleeping habits.

States would not be required to accept the federal money or participate in the program, and questions remain over how it would be implemented.

The president’s proposal requires states to put up some matching funds to qualify for federal preschool money, and it’s not clear if the money California currently spends on preschool programs would count toward the state’s match. Nor is it clear if California’s current state preschool program will meet the quality standards the federal government plans to require from states receiving funding. Roberto Rodriguez, the president’s adviser on education, said Tuesday that he could not yet comment on upcoming legislation that might clarify these issues.

The administration did outline the quality standards states must meet in order to participate in the Preschool for All program in a budget justification document sent to Congress in mid-April.California’s state preschool program currently meets about half of the quality requirements, so it is difficult to tell if the state would qualify for participation in the program in year one. The administration estimates that only 12 to 15 states will meet the standards initially. The budget request also calls for competitive grants to help states bring their programs into compliance and to begin to receive their portion of the Preschool for All money.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Tuesday that spending money on early childhood education is “an investment, not an expense.” The proposed expansion of publicly funded preschool is expected to be hotly debated when legislation attempting to enact the president’s plan reaches the floor of the House and Senate later this summer. The proposal would increase the federal tax on tobacco products from $1.01 to $1.95 per pack.

This story was updated on June 5, 2013 at 12:13 p.m.


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  1. Devin 3 years ago3 years ago

    I just wanted to comment and compliment all of you that are having such an intelligent, well-behaved discussion about this issue. It is refreshing to see in an environment that normally breaks down into ugly stereotyping and name calling. Kudos to all of you for your well thought out arguments and replies.

  2. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    El, you bring up a good point. What to do about it, is another thing…

  3. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    The Republic of the United States, 1776-1913…

  4. CarolineSF 3 years ago3 years ago

    I’m always curious — Regis, what nations around the world are run in accordance with the principles and practices you espouse? What nation is your role model?

  5. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    Gary, you're entitled to your opinion and I'll respect that. Regarding the New Deal, it can be argued either way, as to whether or not it benefited the country. I will agree with you about unregulated capitalism and also disagree, as the capitalism going on now, is not real capitalism, but crony capitalism and the repeal of the Glass Steagal Act, TARP and the ongoing actions of the Federal Reserve with QE to … Read More

    Gary, you’re entitled to your opinion and I’ll respect that. Regarding the New Deal, it can be argued either way, as to whether or not it benefited the country. I will agree with you about unregulated capitalism and also disagree, as the capitalism going on now, is not real capitalism, but crony capitalism and the repeal of the Glass Steagal Act, TARP and the ongoing actions of the Federal Reserve with QE to infinity are doing major damage to the real economy. This is a prime example of what happens when Government interference in the market hurts the recovery, instead of helping it.

    The European Social Democracies, that you so expound as models of how to run government spending on entitlements is an even better example of how things run amock when you throw Government money at Social Problems. The EU is in serious trouble, with an ongoing procession of Countries going bankrupt due to those very generous entitlement programs that laid waste to the countries themselves. Greece is a prime example, Cypriot, Spain and Italy aren’t far behind. France is a huge employment deficit and crippling taxes approaching nearly 100%.

    In Cypriot, bank accounts were seized and this follows the course of Ireland, where they seized IRA’s and Retirement Accounts to help pay the debt to the EU. The IMF and their Economists aren’t the wizards they’re made out to be. In fact, they’ve admitted to it, just yesterday, according to the Wall Street Journal

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324299104578527202781667088.html?mod=WSJ_LatestHeadlines

    “IMF Concedes It Made Mistakes on Greece: Fund Says It Bent Rules on Debt Relief, but Argues That Bought Time for Europe to Limit the Fallout.”

    Here in Los Angeles County, 75% of the Budget is spent to maintain the poor population. How productive is that? Does spending $173 million dollars a month on Welfare do anything productive for the real economy? Not the liqour store/AM-PM/Vallarta market economy, but the real Industry, with associated CapEx which has been leaving this state in droves since the late 90’s, because nobody wants the dirty industries here, nor the railroads, nor anything else of use.

    Residents fear cancer, asthma risks from Metrolink train emissions!
    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-metrolink-air-pollution-20130530,0,2328389.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+lanowblog+(L.A.+Now)

    Exide Battery plant closed down

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-exide-20130531,0,3722629.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedly

    The children in this community … are suffering many illnesses,” Ana Haney told the crowd in Spanish as Exide officials and air district regulators looked

    And finally! Poor Illegals, their children are suffering from the free education they get, courtesy of the taxpayer… And who’s fault is that? Mine? the taxpayer, I don’t think so.

    http://www.scpr.org/blogs/multiamerican/2013/05/30/13829/how-parents-immigration-status-affects-their-child/?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+893KpccSouthernCaliforniaNews+(KPCC%3A+News)

    And let’s get rid of the Dirty Oil Refineries, too, because it’s not fair to the poor people living in those neighborhoods, never mind that they drive cars, trucks and have a ton of plastics in nearly every aspect of their lives

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/02/local/la-me-0403-dirty-oil-20130403

    Got Galt?

    Replies

    • el 3 years ago3 years ago

      How many of those poor people do have jobs, or family members with jobs, at places like Wal Mart and others paying near minimum wage? How would Wal Mart, or hotels, or nursing homes, or restaurants even exist in their current state without a large pool of people working below the poverty line and with no health insurance? What would your lettuce and strawberries cost if the people who picked them - who work HARD … Read More

      How many of those poor people do have jobs, or family members with jobs, at places like Wal Mart and others paying near minimum wage? How would Wal Mart, or hotels, or nursing homes, or restaurants even exist in their current state without a large pool of people working below the poverty line and with no health insurance? What would your lettuce and strawberries cost if the people who picked them – who work HARD by the way – were paid a living wage and thus had no need for taxpayer subsidized services?

    • Gary Ravani 3 years ago3 years ago

      The "social democracies", yet again, are in Europe's northern tier. Those countries, who did not embrace austerity, weathered the economic crisis better than we did. That was a part of the IMF lesson. More government spending helps the economy. I am not really sure what the intent of the rest of your statement is. And legitimate historians have no doubt about the positive impacts of the New Deal, nor the negative impacts when FDR listened to … Read More

      The “social democracies”, yet again, are in Europe’s northern tier. Those countries, who did not embrace austerity, weathered the economic crisis better than we did. That was a part of the IMF lesson. More government spending helps the economy. I am not really sure what the intent of the rest of your statement is.

      And legitimate historians have no doubt about the positive impacts of the New Deal, nor the negative impacts when FDR listened to the deficit hawks of his time, and retrenched. It is only the revisionists who express doubts to justify the current deficit/debt hysteria.

  6. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    Navagio, sure they provide a service, but at what cost? What are the consequences are we seeing? What was the out-of-wedlock birth rate for Black women before 1965, versus now? Take a look at the St Louis Federal Reserve chart for Federal Debt and note that it really started taking off in 1965? Coincidence? http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/GFDEBTN I think we're just about at that point, where the 'Takers' outnumber the 'Makers'. With the levels of … Read More

    Navagio, sure they provide a service, but at what cost? What are the consequences are we seeing? What was the out-of-wedlock birth rate for Black women before 1965, versus now? Take a look at the St Louis Federal Reserve chart for Federal Debt and note that it really started taking off in 1965? Coincidence?

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/GFDEBTN

    I think we’re just about at that point, where the ‘Takers’ outnumber the ‘Makers’. With the levels of spending, taxation and seizing of our money through ‘fees’ (like the 3% additional State Gasoline Tax, you and I will be paying next month, courtesy of the recent 3-1 vote (Democrat vs. single Republican, George Runner, on the Board of Equalization, with no input or choice by us), do you really believe any of this is sustainable?

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 3 years ago3 years ago

      Actually poverty rates declined significantly under the Great Society programs, it wasn't until Reagan began to dismantle them that it grew again and then accelerated under W Bush. And there was terrible suffering prior the New Deal, that's why FDR was re-elected 4 times, because his programs helped alleviate the suffering. We saw unregulated capitalism in action as it created the latest economic collapse, you're advocating for another round? I think we've covered this … Read More

      Actually poverty rates declined significantly under the Great Society programs, it wasn’t until Reagan began to dismantle them that it grew again and then accelerated under W Bush. And there was terrible suffering prior the New Deal, that’s why FDR was re-elected 4 times, because his programs helped alleviate the suffering. We saw unregulated capitalism in action as it created the latest economic collapse, you’re advocating for another round? I think we’ve covered this ground before, but the European Social Democracies have far less poverty and suffering , with far more government spending, then we do. As you state, the Congress is empowered by the Constitution to “levy and collect taxes.” Bravo! So, if the IMF can’t issue economic analysis, being as they are actual economists, pointing to the error of our ways who should, Ayn Rand? Time to pull your head out of your ideology there, Regis old chap.

  7. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    Gary, also, let me add that IMF has no business telling us, how we spend or collect our money. The statement that there's too little government spending is lunacy! The money doesn't come from trees, it is either borrowed at interest, by the sale of bonds to be repaid later, or it is obtained through taxation. I vehemently oppose the level of government spending at all levels and the fraud, ineptness and plain stupidity … Read More

    Gary, also, let me add that IMF has no business telling us, how we spend or collect our money. The statement that there’s too little government spending is lunacy! The money doesn’t come from trees, it is either borrowed at interest, by the sale of bonds to be repaid later, or it is obtained through taxation.

    I vehemently oppose the level of government spending at all levels and the fraud, ineptness and plain stupidity of what’s going on, amazes me. Sacramento is owned by the unions. The CTA was the biggest contributor in the last elections for the Governor, Assembly and Senate , along with the SEIU and this filters down to the City and County elections (note the recent elections for LA City Mayor). There shouldn’t be ANY public service unions, PERIOD. They should be outlawed. The negotiation for wages to be paid, are missing the third party, the taxpayer. The Union is there, the Government is there, but the money doesn’t belong to either of them. It is either borrowed or taxed, by an ever decreasing pool of legitimate taxpayers.

  8. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    Navagio, private industries are entities that produce a product or service, provide employment and pay taxes (at least legitimate industries, we won't go into the Federally Subsidized NYSE and the Banks, which I don't support at all). I say kill all the other subsidies as well and let true capitalism, competition and industry come back to America. I don't support the Crony-Capitalists and Elite Lobbyists in Washington either. Gary, I call 'baloney' on your … Read More

    Navagio, private industries are entities that produce a product or service, provide employment and pay taxes (at least legitimate industries, we won’t go into the Federally Subsidized NYSE and the Banks, which I don’t support at all). I say kill all the other subsidies as well and let true capitalism, competition and industry come back to America. I don’t support the Crony-Capitalists and Elite Lobbyists in Washington either.

    Gary, I call ‘baloney’ on your statement. There wasn’t a mandate to support ANY kind of government entitlement until FDR’s ‘New Deal’ and this was solidified under LBJ’s “Great Society’ program. Care of the poor and underprivileged happened back then through religous organizations and charity. There is absolutely no fairness in taking the profits of the working man and distributing against his will to those who are on the dole. And just how is that working out? There are more people of color in poverty now, then there was back then!

    We can see how well all these Government Programs are working under our current administration, with over 46 million people on Food Stamps and just about 50% of the population getting some kind of Federal Money (read: Taxpayer Money) each month. It is a failed model of epic proportions and shows the dangers of increased and inept government intervention in Social Experimentation.

    The General Welfare Clause only gave Congress the power to levy and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States.” Note, the wording is the United States, not the citizens themselves.

    The Federal Government should only be responsible for the common defense of this country, interstate commerce and laws that aren’t decided on, by the states, nothing else.

    Replies

    • navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

      Hi Regis. I think it is misguided to believe that our entitlements do not provide a service. In that sense, the analogy still holds.

  9. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    Lillian, thanks for the feedback. I am familiar with the First Five program, because there are billboards in Spanish in my area that advocate enrollment to this program. I do find it disturbing though, in an overall fashion, the increasing pervasiveness of Government involvement in all aspects of life, including rearing children. This used to be a parental responsibility, but now we have roving bands of nurses, social workers, etc entering numerous homes to … Read More

    Lillian, thanks for the feedback. I am familiar with the First Five program, because there are billboards in Spanish in my area that advocate enrollment to this program. I do find it disturbing though, in an overall fashion, the increasing pervasiveness of Government involvement in all aspects of life, including rearing children.

    This used to be a parental responsibility, but now we have roving bands of nurses, social workers, etc entering numerous homes to ‘educate’ the parents and children. I guess that’s the new “Normal”, but it costs money to do this and despite the rosy projections in Sacramento, one only has to look at the National Debt as an example of out-of-control spending on entitlements.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 3 years ago3 years ago

      Regis; If you read the first paragraph of the Constitution, commonly called the Preamble, you will find a phrase: "promote the general welfare." The proposed programs to support children clearly fall under that mandate for our government. By the way, before you get the vapors, the deficit and debt are well under control. Just today, the head of the International Monetary Fund criticized the US for impeding the growth of the US economy and, therefore, the … Read More

      Regis;

      If you read the first paragraph of the Constitution, commonly called the Preamble, you will find a phrase: “promote the general welfare.” The proposed programs to support children clearly fall under that mandate for our government. By the way, before you get the vapors, the deficit and debt are well under control. Just today, the head of the International Monetary Fund criticized the US for impeding the growth of the US economy and, therefore, the growth of the world’s economy because of too little government spending.

  10. Regis 3 years ago3 years ago

    There is so much that is wrong here, that it defies belief. Again, the mantra is to raise taxes, specifically on tobacco products, so that a declining tax base of unreliable funds, can be implemented to an ever-increasing demand of unnecessary services, that the government, has no business being involved in. The parents who voluntarily have these children, need to stop relying on the taxpayer to subsidize their child care, dental care, housing, lunches etc. … Read More

    There is so much that is wrong here, that it defies belief. Again, the mantra is to raise taxes, specifically on tobacco products, so that a declining tax base of unreliable funds, can be implemented to an ever-increasing demand of unnecessary services, that the government, has no business being involved in.

    The parents who voluntarily have these children, need to stop relying on the taxpayer to subsidize their child care, dental care, housing, lunches etc. If they want someone to watch their preschool children, I’m sure there’s a large segment of California’s population, that stays home all day, and collects CALWORKS money already.

    And now, the Government is going to be visiting the homes of all these low-income people to provide ‘services’ at Taxpayer expense, specifically: “The
    president’s proposal, called Preschool For All, would make another $20.9 million available to California for home-visiting programs. The programs send nurses, social workers or other professionals to the homes of low-income parents of infants and toddlers to teach parents about early language acquisition, nutrition and safe sleeping habits.”

    Why is the real taxpayer (that 15% of Californian’s who pay 85% of the taxes) on the hook for home visits to teach parents about ‘early language acquisition’, ‘nutrition’ and ‘safe sleeping habits’? That is NOT the job of the government, though increasingly, the reliance on the ‘safety net’ for decades upon decades, has created an attitude of entitlement, that wouldn’t exist, if we didn’t make it so easy to obtain those benefits, that have little return to the taxpayer.

    Replies

    • Lillian Mongeau 3 years ago3 years ago

      Hi Regis, Thank you for your comments. The home visiting program is actually not new. There is already such a program in California, though it does not reach the number of mothers in poverty that advocates think would be ideal. Much of it is supported by the voter-approved First Five Commission. Another (newer) chunk is supported by funds from the Affordable Care Act. Apologies if I gave the impression that the current Obama proposal would create … Read More

      Hi Regis,
      Thank you for your comments. The home visiting program is actually not new. There is already such a program in California, though it does not reach the number of mothers in poverty that advocates think would be ideal. Much of it is supported by the voter-approved First Five Commission. Another (newer) chunk is supported by funds from the Affordable Care Act. Apologies if I gave the impression that the current Obama proposal would create a brand new program, rather, this would be a significant expansion.
      –Lillian

    • navigio 3 years ago3 years ago

      ..has created an attitude of entitlement, that wouldn’t exist, if we didn’t make it so easy to obtain those benefits, that have little return to the taxpayer.

      The same could be said of government subsidies for private industry.

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