The Edmond Sun


November 26, 2013

Parental choice, not universal preschool

EDMOND — Why does Oklahoma still have a universal pre-kindergarten program?

That’s the question Jennifer Doverspike asks in an excellent article over at (“The False Promise of Universal Pre-Kindergarten”).

Doverspike is the founder and editor of “Six Forty Nine: Resource-Driven Parenting” and the co-founder of Midtown Tulsa Moms. A former intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency with expertise in counterterrorism and al-Qaida, she is a thorough researcher. When the evidence points to benefits of early education, she acknowledges those benefits. But she has no patience for the inflated claims of President Barack Obama and others about the effects of universal pre-kindergarten.

“Preschool for disadvantaged children may have its benefits,” Doverspike writes, “but that does not augur for a state-run program that catches all children.

“If you are an educated parent who spends time talking and learning with your children, your child probably will not gain any extra educational benefit from preschool. Oklahoma makes the classic mistake of assuming the government can do a better job of providing for our children than what parents can do for their own children.

“An engaged parent can provide ‘education’ necessary for a young child by letting him or her play — a solution far better than formal education, which can hinder a child’s learning skills or negatively impact more rambunctious children, especially boys.”

As author Kay Hymowitz recently wrote over at, what the research really suggests “is that it’s parents, not formal education, that makes the difference for young children’s readiness for school and success once they get there.”

There’s also the issue of cost. Public education always wants more money, but policymakers also have to fix roads and bridges, fund welfare programs, and lock up bad guys. Describing the state-budget realities at 23rd and Lincoln, Oklahoma’s secretary of education and workforce development, Robert Sommers, summed it up nicely: “Resources are limited and competition is fierce.”

Doverspike understands this, and says “it’s laughable that the same people who lament that ‘49th in school spending is not OK’ aren’t noticing the pre-kindergarten parasite stretching the education budget even further.”

After reviewing the evidence, she concludes that Oklahoma’s “state-run pre-kindergarten is not doing its job. After 15 years, it may be time to try something different.”

Doverspike offers several worthy policy alternatives, the most important of which (in my view) involve parental choice. Specifically, she mentions vouchers, education accounts, and the “Etsy Earner” agenda for education and childcare. As Ben Domenech explains, Etsy Earners are “women who’ve started home businesses or found contracting work to make ends meet and to stay engaged in their careers in the long term, recognizing they’ll have to go back to full-time work as soon as they are able.

“School choice is the great white hope on the right, but they should expand their normal conversation about it to include the parent trigger and education savings accounts which can be used toward Pre-K or toward child care. The current deductibility limit for child care expenses comes nowhere near the annual cost for most families, which particularly hurts single moms, who have no option but to work and put their kids in homecare or daycare. It also creates a huge incentive to dump kids into Head Start, a failed program which drives up costs for every other type of child care.

Either make every penny of childcare expenses deductible, or create a tax-free childcare/education savings account, perhaps framed more broadly as child-rearing accounts. The right should look to the example of Arizona’s Empowerment Savings Account program.”

Fortunately, some Oklahoma policymakers are beginning to do just that. For even though universal pre-kindergarten is “every progressive’s fondest dream,” as Red Jahncke recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal (“The ‘Universal Pre-K’ Fallacy”), it is the wrong vision for one of the most conservative states in the United States of America.

“Oklahoma has the ability to establish itself as a beacon of federalism and limited government,” Doverspike says. “It has already gained national attention for its states’-rights-crusading attorney general. The state legislature is working on tax reform, judicial selection, workers’ compensation reform and tort reform.

“Despite those gains, Oklahoma can’t claim the mantle of limited government while the universal pre-kindergarten stands.”

BRANDON DUTCHER, an Edmond resident, is senior vice president at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA).


Text Only
  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • RedBlueAmerica: What should the U.S. do about illegal immigrant children?

    The crisis along the southern U.S. border has politicians and immigration officials scrambling. More than 52,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have arrived so far this year. The Department of Homeland Security is running out of space to hold them all.
    President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in borrowed money from taxpayers to cover the growing “care, feeding and transportation costs of unaccompanied children and family groups” when our own veterans are not taken care of. Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized the president’s plan, saying more money should go toward securing the border.

    July 17, 2014

  • VA scandal highlights the need to change Pentagon spending priorities

    The ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal raises an important question: When our veterans are being denied access to basic health care, why is the Pentagon squandering billions of dollars on programs that do not benefit our military forces? Is there a link in organization attitudes?

    July 16, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results