Biden Proposes Federally Regulated ‘Universal Pre-K’ for Children as Young as 3
President Joe Biden’s $6.9 trillion proposed budget would have the hand of the government rock the cradle by creating a federally regulated, universal pre-K program for children as young as three.
Altogether, President Biden would spend more than half-a-trillion dollars over the next 10 years to allow all American preschoolers to spend their formative years in a taxpayer-funded day care program. The president’s proposed 2024 budget includes billions of dollars to create “high-quality, universal, free preschool” for “all of the approximately four million four-year-old children in” the United States. Each of the 50 states may then “expand preschool to three-year-olds after preschool is available to all four-year-olds.”
The eventual program, which would see children raised anywhere “from public schools to child care providers to Head Start,” would be administered by the Department of Education in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“The estimated cost of these child care and preschool investments is $600 billion over 10 years,” the budget proposal states.
Parents have already expressed concerns about the curriculum that might be taught in government-administered preschool programs.
“While the creation of universal pre-K may seem benevolent, the fact that so many schools now teach age-inappropriate lessons on race and sex raises red flags that such a program would simply allow administrators access to children at even younger and more vulnerable ages,” said Nicki Neily, the president of the education watchdog group Parents Defending Education. “It’s time to stop obsessing over ‘equity’ and ‘diversity’ in education and instead return to teaching students a solid core curriculum that will give them the skills they need to thrive later in life.”
These worries are amplified by the tender age of the children targeted by the Biden administration, which threatened to withhold federal funding from schools that do not allow males who identify as transgender to have access to female restrooms, bathrooms, and intimate areas.
“Between 15 to 18 months of age is when most children start forming their worldview,” explained George Barna, describing his research at Arizona Christian University’s Cultural Research Center, on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” in 2022. “By the age of 13, it’s almost completely in place.”
“A child needs a worldview, so if we don’t help them develop it,” said Barna, “somebody else will.”
Government agencies have quietly begun normalizing the notion of federal bureaucracies overseeing the childrearing of infants by changing the educational nomenclature from “k-12” (kindergarten through high school) to “p-12.”
The administration says it funds government-run childrearing programs so parents can “go to work or pursue training with the peace of mind that their children are being set up for a lifetime of success.” Yet decades of social science conclusively shows children raised by their own parents have the best life outcomes, while children raised in preschools suffer a variety of physical and emotional harms.
“In August 2013, Vanderbilt University released an evaluation demonstrating that children who went through Tennessee’s Voluntary Pre-K (TN-VPK) Program actually performed worse on cognitive tasks at the end of first grade than did the control group,” noted Lindsay Burke, an expert on the topic at the Heritage Foundation. Children who attended Quebec’s government-funded universal pre-K program were 4.6% more likely to be convicted of a crime, and 17% more likely to be convicted of a drug crime. Overall, these Canadian children experienced “worse health, lower life satisfaction and higher crime rates later in life.”
Nearly two-thirds of children who attended day care had higher cortisol levels than children at home. “For girls, the cortisol rise was associated with anxious, vigilant behavior, while for boys the rise was associated with angry, aggressive behavior,” researchers noted.
Biden’s proposed budget offers universal pre-K with the hope that children who take them will “enter kindergarten ready to succeed.” But a 2003 study found, “The more time children spent in any of a variety of nonmaternal care arrangements across the first 4.5 years of life, the more externalizing problems and conflict with adults they manifested at 54 months of age and in kindergarten, as reported by mothers, caregivers, and teachers.”
It is unclear there is burning desire for such programs. Over decades of conducing public polls, Gallup reports that it has “consistently found that the majority of working mothers would prefer to stay at home and take care of their house and family.” They work out of financial considerations, pollsters say.
Women are far more likely than men to say they want to work remotely from a home office. Women consistently say they place their highest value on flexible working conditions, which allow them to be home when their children are toddlers, or when they arrive home from school.
Nonetheless, Biden’s budget would boost Head Start funding by $1.1 billion to $13.1 billion. It also includes $500 million for the Education Department “to create or expand free, high-quality preschool in school or community-based settings” for children eligible to attend low-income schools.
Universal pre-K has remained a goal of the Democratic Party for at least a decade. President Barack Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address demanded Congress “do what works” by “working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.” Obama referred to universal pre-K in the nation’s first-ever report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in 2010, noting that he used stimulus funds to “promote high-quality early childhood education.” His Department of Education would “provide low-income students and students of color with increased access to early learning and education,” the report added.
However, a previous federal program known as Head Start, which was designed to improve the readiness of low-income children for kindergarten, was found to be a failure. A report from Obama’s own HHS noted that the program “had little to no positive effects for children who were granted access.”
More than a decade into the new millennium, Democratic bureaucrats still see value in having the government oversee the raising of young children. Universal pre-K will “pay dividends for generations to come,” said Cecilia Rouse, chair of the Biden’s White House Council of Economic Advisers this week.
The budget proposal stands little chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where all spending bills must originate under the Constitution.
“President Biden’s newly unveiled budget would waste hard-earned taxpayer dollars on a radical leftist agenda, drive us deeper into debt, and raise taxes on a fragile economy,” said Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.). “Right now, when Americans desperately need a return to economic stability, Biden’s budget proposal fails to recognize the nation’s fiscal crisis.”
Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.