NY PostPre-K pretense
By Post Editorial Board
March 31, 2014 | 10:55pm
Ever wonder how Albany spends your money? For a bracing education, look no further than the $340 million a year it has just agreed to for universal pre-K.
When Bill de Blasio first put universal pre-K at the heart of his campaign, it wasn’t clear whether his purpose was to help schoolkids or carry on his class war. It sure seemed the latter, especially when the mayor insisted on his wealth tax even after Gov. Cuomo promised to give him the funds he wanted without taxing.
So the big debate became wholly about funding — whether we’d get pre-K with a tax hike or without. Fortunately, Gov. Cuomo won that argument. Unfortunately, this massive increase in public spending was passed with almost zero debate on the key questions: whether it will work, and how we will know.
Now, even those who support pre-K have reason to doubt that the massive, immediate scaling up de Blasio wants is not the best way to ensure results. Gov. Cuomo’s own Education Reform Commission, which advocated for pre-K, said it was “critical” for pre-K success that “interventions at every stage are supported by evidence-based benchmarks.” Where are those interventions, and what are the benchmarks?
The point is, before most New Yorkers agreed to commit to spending $340 million, they’d insist on knowing what they’d be getting for their money. Not in Albany. There, folks spend $340 million a year as far as the eye can see with only the vaguest references to ensuring results.
The bottom line? Even if pre-K does work, we will have no way of measuring how well. Welcome to Albany spending.