Governor’s mistake

My latest op-ed appeared in The Virginian-Pilot Wednesday. I had seen this article, in which we were informed that Governor McDonnell decided to forego $60 million in federal grant money for pre-K, and this part grabbed me:

The competition is aimed at ensuring children – especially those with disabilities or other challenges – are prepared for kindergarten.

Even so, I wasn’t going to write about it. After all, Lisa Howard had done a really good job of pulling the facts together about the importance of pre-K in this article. Normally, that’s the kind of thing I write.

But what I have been witnessing in the classroom over the last few months came to a head Monday, when I realized that a whole lot of them didn’t know the difference between a.m. and p.m. This was just the latest of the basics that I’ve had to slow down and teach.

I’ll bet my friend Jim knows the difference.

What’s really sad, though, is the assumptions made by many of the people who emailed me. They called pre-K babysitting, which is far from the truth. Without knowing the circumstances of Jim’s life, they assumed he was a poor black kid. Um – no, he wasn’t.

My niece teaches kindergarten. What these kids are expected to know at that age these days amazes me. But it makes me wonder about the ones who don’t know that stuff and how far behind they might fall.

All the more reason why we should have applied for the $60 million. Virginian’s kids deserve it. Their peers in other states are going to get it.


7 thoughts on “Governor’s mistake

  1. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Virginia has the 7th highest per capita income among the States. So if the Virginia Legislature thinks an extra $60M would be well-spent on Pre-K, we can afford to pay for it ourselves.

    Now, where is the federal government getting that money? From US. I guarantee you that this program is taking more that $60M from Virginians, since we have a per-capita income 10% higher than the United States as a whole. So we get $70-80M taken from us, given $60M back, and then we are blackmailed by the federal government to do things THEIR way so we can get some of OUR money back? McDonnell was right not to participate in the blackmail.

    In fact, why is the federal government handing any of this money out to Virginia? Shouldn’t such funds only go to those States that are at the bottom end of the economic ladder? Just cut all benefits from the top states, and less money needs to be collected and distributed by the program. The less money collected and distributed — and distributed to fewer States — the less bureaucracy (waste) is needed to run the program.

    So the money McDonnell has refused will go to those States that need it more than Virginia does. What’s wrong with that?

    1. We can afford it? Really? Tell that to the folks who’ve been waiting for year for the disability waivers. Tell that to the college kids who have seen tuition go through the roof because the state can’t deliver on its share of base adequacy funding. Tell that to the localities who have been making up the funding for public schools since the state doesn’t have the money to pay its 55% share.

      Oh – and tell that to the retirees who saw McDonnell & Co raid VRS by $620 million – more than 10 times the amount of this funding – just to balance the budget.

      If per capita income translated into revenues for the state, we wouldn’t lag so far behind those other states in so many areas.

  2. Start programs with a one-time grant? What happens when the grant isn’t there anymore?

    You’re a CPA, Vivian. You call that fiscally responsible?

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