Early learning won’t help if the kids don’t show up

Oct 30, 2017

  Commentary: Advocates for taxpayer-financed pre-K and other early childhood programs (like Rep. Javier Martinez who is by no means alone) take an “if you build it they will come” approach to their favored government program for which they wish to tap the “Permanent Fund.”

How could ANYONE oppose this policy since it will so obviously help children??? Well, as the Albuquerque Journal reported over the weekend, it appears that Albuquerque parents don’t value the current early childhood options available to them very highly. As seen below kindergartners have by far the highest rates of habitual truancy among elementary school children.

Not surprisingly, the story notes that it is the children who need kindergarten the most who miss the most school. In fact, the article notes that “low-income children are four-times more likely to be chronically absent.” Unfortunately, you can throw as much tax money if you want at a problem, but if the people who need it the most don’t actually use it (despite numerous public education campaigns outlined in the story) it isn’t going to have the intended impact.

Oh, and if low-income New Mexicans so strongly support pre-K programs, why did low-income, working class Santa Fe voters most overwhelmingly voted down the soda tax for pre-K back in May? Perhaps the reason is that folks who most “need” the program don’t value it when actually asked to pay for it?