Michael Barone Examines The Perpetual Candidate

Washington Examiner logo - GPH Consulting

Michael Barone opens his latest column with the question, “Do we have a president or a perpetual candidate?”.

The obvious answer is that we have a perpetual candidate, an individual so inept at actual governance that all he can do is give speeches to crowds full of delusional sycophants. Like his campaign speeches where the true believers would faint and suffer dehydration, Obama prefers the adoration of the truly troubled.

Barone then goes into a great policy analysis of the current calls by the perpetual candidate to fund universal preschool:

Obama keeps talking about corporate jets because it tests well in polls.

And that’s the reason, I think, he keeps talking about universal preschool, not just for disadvantaged children.

Polls show that large majorities of Americans would be willing to have more government money spent for preschool for disadvantaged children. The impulse to help adorable but needy little kids is very strong.

Unfortunately, the evidence that preschool programs do any permanent good for such children is exceedingly weak.

Preschool advocates point to a 1960s program in Ypsilanti, Mich., and a 1970s North Carolina program called Abecedarian. Research showed those programs produced lasting gains in learning.

But no one has been able to replicate the success of these very small programs staffed by unusually dedicated people. Mass programs like Head Start staffed by more ordinary people don’t work as well.

Kids in such programs seem to make no perceptible lasting gains. That’s too bad, because disadvantaged kids need help.

So why is Obama emphasizing universal preschool, which would cost a lot more than preschool for the disadvantaged? The reason, I suspect, is that you would have to hire lots more credentialed teachers, which means you would get lots more teacher union members.

Teacher union leaders would love to see more dues money coming in, and to channel more to the Democratic Party.

To my suspicious eye, the preschool proposal doesn’t make much sense as policy, but it makes a lot of sense as politics.

Demagoguery about preschool and corporate jets is not going to convince Republicans that Obama can be a reliable negotiating partner.

That is as succinct an analysis as I have read about the issue of the perpetual candidate’s calls for universal preschool. Barone is absolutely right, this universal preschool boondoggle is nothing more than a scheme to build up the Democrat base.

I also want to point out this particular comment by Barone, and it is not to pick on him, but it is to further clarify the actual belief:

Polls show that large majorities of Americans would be willing to have more government money spent for preschool for disadvantaged children. The impulse to help adorable but needy little kids is very strong.

This does not mean that the “majorities of Americans” are willing to have their taxes increased. It means that if they are already sending $20,000 a year to the federal government, the government should direct more of that $20,000 to this preschool boondoggle. That would mean cutting money spent somewhere else. That is a tall task in Washington D.C., a task I do not expect to see come to pass.


WSJ: Teachers Unions vs. Black Kids

The Wall Street Journal has this on their website today. I thought it was a short enough blurb, that it needed to be shared. This is crazy.


Earlier this year, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana signed into law an expanded school choice program for underprivileged kids. Naturally, the teachers unions are suing to block it. Oral arguments begin tomorrow.

The program provides scholarships to poor families with children in failing schools. Last year, 36% of the state’s public schools received a D or F ranking, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. Some 5,000 kids are participating in the program and many are black, which is why the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is defending the law.

“There is no greater injustice than to tell children that they don’t deserve a chance at the best possible education because their family can’t afford it,” said Kenneth Campbell of BAEO in press release from the Institute for Justice, which represents families using the program. “No one should be treated any less or be prevented from gaining access to high quality educational options based on their income or zip code.”

The teachers unions claim to be taking issue with how the program is funded. The reality is that they oppose its existence. The top priority of the unions is their members, not whether children are receiving a quality education. Denying school choice to people who can’t afford private schools or to move to a neighborhood with better public schools is a way for unions to ensure that their members have jobs.