View From Lodi, CA: Meathead`s Folly—Rob Reiner And Proposition 82
Rob Reiner`s Proposition 82, the
“Pre School for All” initiative that will appear on
California`s June 6th ballot, is teetering on
the brink of collapse.
What`s bringing it down is a
combination of two things. First, Prop 82 is the
ill-conceived brainchild of a group of
Hollywood personalities who, let`s face it, don`t
a clue about educational realities.
And second, Reiner`s First 5
California Families and Children Commission will be the
subject of a full-scale state audit for possible misuse
of public funds. Reiner, while denying any wrongdoing,
has taken a leave of absence from the commission.
Whether Prop 82 fails because of
financial improprieties or because of its own intrinsic
shortcomings doesn`t matter. The important thing is that
Californians realize its folly and chose instead to
focus on other, more useful academic goals.
On paper the concept is, of course,
appealing. Under Prop 82, free preschool would be
available to any four- year- old who wished to enroll.
claims coming out of the Reiner camp are that
preschool translates into 13,800 fewer students who
repeat grades in primary education, 9,000 fewer kids
in special education and 10,000 more high school
And since funding would come from
$2.4 billion in taxes imposed upon
Californians who earn more than $400,000, Prop 82 is
advertised as a low-cost benefit to the average worker.
So far, so good. But a
closer examination made by the non-partisan Rand
Corporation found that 66 percent of all California
preschool age children already attend preschool.
Proposition 82 would only increase the total to 70
percent. In other words, Prop 82 would cost $2.4 billion
to attain a net increase of 4 percent, or 22,000
students, in preschool enrollment.
According to the Legislative
Analyst, the cost of preschool education would be $8,000
per student, per year for a part-time, three-hour per
In addition to the questionable use
of funds, Prop 82 also raises concerns about creating
another layer of
Sacramento bureaucracy that is already a dismal
Under Prop 82, the state
superintendent, Jack O`Connell, would be responsible for
establishing the money counties would receive per
eligible pupil. Then, those counties can divide their
money however they please—but subject to O`Connell`s
An interesting side bar, reported
Capital Weekly News, is that O`Connell campaigned
with Reiner in support of Prop 82. In turn, O`Connell
was the only statewide candidate to receive financial
support ($1,500) from Reiner last year during his
Rather than construct a brand new
administrative and financial monster, as Prop 82 would
certainly do, why not work within the existing system by
making kindergarten mandatory?
Look at the
California State Board of Education Content Standards
for kindergarten and ask yourself why this grade level
Here are a few of the things
expected of children who complete kindergarten.
reading, children must be able to distinguish
letters from words, read one-syllable, high
frequency sight words and describe common objects
and events in general and specific language.
writing, create brief legible sentences using
upper and lower case letters.
math, compare length, width and capacity of
objects; identify and describe common geometric
objects and compare familiar plane and solid objects
by common attributes.
If I were a parent or activist
concerned about California school children`s level of
academic preparation, I would insist that they attend
kindergarten where the structure for learning is already
And I would forget about more
costly and unproven initiatives like Prop 82.