Monday, December 05, 2005

Universal preschool is inviting universal disaster

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on Rob Reiner's preschool intuitive and reminds of what happened in Quebec:
The arguments Reiner and San Francisco child care advocates make are identical to the ones made in Quebec eight years ago. They claim that an investment in preschool will pay for itself not once, but many times. A Rand Corp. study estimates that every dollar spent on preschool will yield $2.50 in savings for the state by, among other things, boosting graduation rates and diminishing juvenile crime.

Setting aside the inherent difficulty of accurately quantifying such nebulous and distant benefits, such calculations inevitably underestimate the ultimate bill because they don't take into account the inflationary pressures that the program itself creates.

The final price tag for Quebec's day care program is 33 times what was originally projected: It was supposed to cost $230 million over five years, but now gobbles $1.7 billion every year.

With this kind of spending, one would think that Quebec was offering top-notch day care to every tot, toddler and teen.

Think again.

Much of the increased spending has gone not toward increased access, but increased costs. Day care worker unions, on the threat of strike, negotiated a 40 percent increase in wages over four years. The cost of care has doubled since the program began, with the annual per-infant cost now exceeding $15,000.
Another reason for people who make over $400,000 a year to leave California.