It's a tax disaster waiting to happen

The implementation of a universal preschool program in California is a disaster waiting to happen.

The effort to implement public school for 4-year-olds is being pushed by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg in his SB837 legislation. No doubt he would like to see it passed as his parting shot for the state before he leaves his post as Senate leader later this year.

Not surprising. This is the same state senator who pushed through the job killer SB375 climate-change legislation and now has his SB1 legislation waiting in the wings -- a bill that would essentially re-establish redevelopment agencies and set up new local taxing entities to fund sustainable communities.

The cost to include 4-year-olds in the public schools would be a taxation nightmare for Californians. Reportedly, it would cost our state $1.4 billion by 2020. A recent Field Poll finds overwhelming support for preschool by Los Angeles-area Latinos.

Kids that young should be at home learning the basics from family members and not in our increasingly dangerous schools.

Eddy Guerra

El Sobrante

Preschool for all is an imperative

Yes, it is imperative that universal preschool become a reality in California.

It is important we level the playing field for all children entering kindergarten. As a perpetual substitute teacher, I have seen kindergartens where some of the children are reading and their classmates are floundering because this is the first school experience for them. The preschool would prepare them for the experience of school and I'm sure help their parents, too.

I have heard juniors in high school confide, "I flunked kindergarten and had to go for two years." Statewide universal preschool is an investment in our future, especially for those families who cannot afford private preschools.

The April 18 Times article, "Voters back universal preschool," showing 57 percent support expansion to all 4-year-olds, is very encouraging.

Mary McMahon

Livermore

We already pay too much in taxes

I am sure that by asking the question in this way, you will get an overwhelming favorable response.

However, the answer might be quite different if you had asked, "Would you be willing to pay an extra amount in sales taxes to fund universal preschool statewide?"

To your question: I would say no to state-funded universal preschool. The state of California is already not doing such a good job in the area of public education, so why should their scope of work be increased?

Also, state finances are still shaky (we still carry a huge debt that needs to be paid off), despite having one of the highest per-capita tax burdens nationwide.

D.E. Johnson

Pleasant Hill

Evidence doesn't support the idea

As a rising high school senior, I understand the importance of providing a high-quality education to everyone, but I do not believe that public preschool is the way to accomplish this.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the 4th-grade math and reading scores of two states, Georgia and Oklahoma, still trail behind the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, despite having had public preschool programs for over a decade.

In fact, Oklahoma is one of the few states that actually has a lower reading score now than it did 20 years ago. The only preschool programs that have been shown to have a significant and lasting impact on children's future learning success are much more intensive -- and thus expensive.

If California wants an effective program, we will have to foot a bill much larger than $1.4 billion. That is a very steep price for taxpayers to pay.

Jennifer Feng

Fremont

Preschool initiative is an insane notion

I am definitely against universal preschool.

Today's public schools -- more appropriately "screwels" -- are nothing more than brainwashing institutions that teach kids what to think, how to think and subjugate any human thought on individual rights or basic logic.

Most egregiously, the God of the Bible has been made illegal in today's government schools, while "alternate lifestyles ... global warming ... evolution" are being taught as if they are the gospel truth.

Kids must comply -- or else! Parental authority is illegal in many cases and today the government school has been given legal authority over our children.

The Constitution has been tossed aside as "globalism," one world government, is being touted as the new ideal.

Teachers have little authority in the classroom. Today's kids are so screwed up on various anti-psychotic drugs that violent behavior is a daily occurrence in U.S. schools.

Starting the brainwashing at an earlier age is not my idea of progress; asking taxpayers to fund additional schooling is insanity. I'm not surprised state Sen. Darrell Steinberg is behind this scary agenda.

Marilynne L. Mellander

El Sobrante

Just a baby-sitting service we pay for

To answer the question of universal preschool, we should look at the current government-run Head Start program. Started in 1965, more than $100 billion has been spent on it.

Has the Head Start preschool program been successful?

A final report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded, "The advantages children gained during their Head Start and age 4 years yielded only a few statistically significant differences in outcomes at the end of 1st grade ... " So even the government admits it's ineffective. (acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/opre/executive_summary_final.pdf)

One grand jury I served on looked at Head Start in Contra Costa County. While not issuing a report, we concluded it's a program that is largely a baby-sitting service and make-work project for teachers.

So why is universal preschool proposed? It's merely a political ploy. We already have thousands of kids whose education is failing. Preschool will not fix that.

By no means should we throw away money on universal preschool, a baby-sitting and teacher job program. We have too many other needs that are going unfunded.

Ken Hambrick

Walnut Creek

Sounds great, but it's very expensive

Universal preschool sounds wonderful and the $1.5 billion cost does not seem too bad.

But realize that $1.5 billion means that the average family of four will pay an extra $2,000 per year in taxes and higher prices to raise that amount of money.

Dennis Mockel

Oakland

Benefits make it clear no-brainer

The National Education Association quotes numerous scientific studies on the effects of preschool on children, particularly those with low incomes.

The general consensus is that those who attend preschool are more ready for kindergarten, more likely to graduate from high school, own a home, have long marriages and earn more money as a consequence. This is a no-brainier. The alternative is more unstable lives and social problems.

Society is more complex than when kindergarten was considered the first step. Many mothers, particularly in low-income families, must work leaving much child care in casual arrangements, and it occurs even in middle-income families. Sliding-scale support should be pursued. But preschool must meet standards intended to socialize and enrich the child. This investment in our children is a very good investment and will pay lasting dividends.

Anne Spanier

Alameda