Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rendell should not hike taxes to gain control of our pre-kindergarten children

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania
3915 Union Deposit Road #223
Harrisburg, PA 17109

For Immediate Release:
Date: 03/13/2006

For more information contact:
Doug Leard (Media Relations) or Chuck Moulton (Chair) at 1-800-R-RIGHTS

Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania (LPPA) supports parent choice for pre-school

Rendell should not hike taxes to gain control of our pre-kindergarten children

Governor Rendell entered office promising to make early-childhood education his signature issue. Since then, he and the legislature have dramatically increased pre-school spending - $230 million last year.

Although promoting universal pre-school creates a wonderful photo opportunity for Rendell and Pennsylvania legislators, it is bad for Pennsylvania.

First, parents are doing a good job. According to David Salisury, director of the Center for Educational Freedom at the Cato Institute, “throughout the 20th century, the scores of preschool age children on IQ and kindergarten readiness tests have climbed steadily upward.”

Second, most parents want responsibility. According to a report from the nonpartisan polling firm Public Agenda, more than 7 out of 10 parents with children aged five or under say they should be responsible for paying the costs of caring for their own children. Even a majority of parents earning less than $25,000 a year believe that they, not taxpayers, should be responsible for the costs of raising their children.

Third, the child-care market is healthy and heterogeneous with diverse choices for the parents and children it serves. Costs have remained steady in real terms since the late 1970s.

Fourth, giving control to government will cause drastic cost increases. Just look at primary education. According to the PA Department of Education, Rendell has increased spending by over $1.1 billion during his tenure. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania ranks 3rd in the nation in per-pupil spending, when adjusted for the cost of living, with an average expenditure of nearly $11,000 per student. Also adjusting for the cost of living, our teachers have the highest average salaries in the country, exceeding $51,000 per educator. Yet, 25% of Pennsylvania teachers failed 2003 certification tests.

Finally, while costs spiral upwards, the government continues to struggle to provide quality results as an education provider. Of public 5th graders, just 57% score as proficient in math and 64% in reading on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) exams. Interestingly, scores decline the longer the children remain in government schools.

By extending control of education to pre-school, Rendell will increase our taxes placing additional burden on families, restricting their choices and damaging the effective pre-school system we have today. Instead, the LPPA recommends that government reduce the tax burden on families, providing parents with more funds and options for determining the best early education for their children.

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