A Growl-Worthy Story

When I read Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday evening, I found myself growling.  Republicans in this country need to put their money where their mouth is.  Talk is cheap, and actions speak louder than words! By their actions, the Republican Party is proving that all their talk about supporting families is just that … talk.  Take a look at Kristof’s column and I think you’ll be growling by the midpoint.


Turning Child Care Into a New Cold War

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

June 5, 2021

For a country brimming with “pro-family” politicians, the United States sure is a tough place to raise a family.

We Americans like to think “We’re No. 1,” but one recent study found that the United States was the second worst out of 35 industrialized countries as a place for families. We ranked behind Bulgaria. Behind Chile.

Now we have a historic chance to support children and families, for President Biden’s American Families Plan proposes programs such as high-quality day care and pre-K that are routine elsewhere in the world. You might think that the “pro-family” Republican Party would be eager to translate platitudes into practical help. But you’d be wrong.

“You know who else liked universal day care?” tweeted Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican. She cited the old Soviet Union, apparently suggesting that there is something Communist about day care, and falsely claimed that participation would be mandatory under the Biden plan.

J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” warned, “‘Universal day care’ is class war against normal people.” Senator Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican, denounced efforts “to put Washington even more in the middle of your life, from the cradle to college.” Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, railed at “lefty social engineering.”

In Idaho, a Republican state representative, Charlie Shepherd, explained that he was against a day care measure because “that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let others raise their child.” He later apologized because his remarks “sounded” sexist.

This is sad because the G.O.P. is right to hail the importance of family. Having loving, supportive parents who read to children, hug them and help them with homework — that’s crucial for kids. One University of Minnesota study found that maternal attachment at age 3 was a better predictor of high school graduation than I.Q.

So Republicans are correct that healthy families make a healthy nation. Democrats sometimes are too reluctant to acknowledge the toll of dysfunctional families, for fear of blaming the poor for their poverty, but it’s difficult to have a serious conversation about improving opportunity and equity in the United States without acknowledging the complicated problems in many homes.

Some eight million American children — roughly one in eight — live with a parent with a substance abuse problem. Millions more live in a household with domestic violence. Others are latchkey kids who look after younger siblings because parents are working and no day care is affordable.

Families desperately need help. In other countries, they get it. In the United States, they get empty homilies about the importance of family.

As a poorer nation in World War II, the United States could afford to operate an excellent day care program to enable moms and dads to hold jobs in the war economy. A follow-up study found that children in that wartime day care went on to enjoy higher high school and college graduation rates and earned more money as adults.

As of 2019, only 34 percent of American 4-year-olds attended state-funded preschool, and an important new study underscores why America needs national high-quality pre-K. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Boston offered public programs for 4-year-olds but couldn’t meet demand, so a lottery was used to determine which children to accept.

Scholars have now found that the long-term effects of this random assignment were enormous. Children who had been accepted into pre-K were 18 percent more likely to enter college on time. They were more likely to graduate from high school and get better SAT scores, and were less likely to be incarcerated while in high school and disciplined as often. Effects were particularly strong for boys.

This new study is part of an enormous body of research showing that the greatest leverage we have to help people may be early in life, as brains are developing.

Skeptics say early childhood programs are expensive. Sure — but poorer countries can afford them. And educational failure and juvenile delinquency are even more costly, and also undermine American competitiveness around the world.

Senators say they care about crime. Well, here’s a way to reduce juvenile crime: Offer high-quality pre-K. They say they want to help young people attend college. So back the Biden plan for pre-K. In other words, this isn’t spending, but high-return investment.

It’s odd that Republicans perceive early childhood programs as a Democratic plot. One of the best states for early childhood programs is Republican Oklahoma, and Oklahomans don’t see pre-K as Communist but as common sense: If you don’t invest in children at the front end, you pay at the back end.

Biden’s effort to slash child poverty and create systems for day care and pre-K could be historic. It’s the most important policy issue of 2021. These initiatives would do for children and families what Social Security and Medicare did for the elderly.

So, please, Republicans, come to your senses: Helping children isn’t the first step to Communism. It’s a step to strengthening America’s families, and thus to strengthening America.

37 thoughts on “A Growl-Worthy Story

  1. When I taught in Primary Schools (your Junior Schools, I think) greater funding always went to the other end of the school life, especially years 11 and 12. I don’t begrudge them funding, but it always struck me as the wrong way around. As this article says, it is the early years of education that give the long term benefits.To not fund those years is to leave many children at best playing catch up and at worse leaving education for the streets, incarceration and low paid jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are exactly right, and it is much the same here — the higher grades are given more attention (and money) than the lower ones. I agree that we must start them as early as possible. Some parents are quite able and willing to provide that early childhood education at home, but the majority in the lower income levels are working two jobs just to pay the rent and don’t have either the time or the energy to spend teaching their young children the alphabet, reading with them, etc. The future of the world depends on today’s children … we better get it right!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So many good comments. With Keith’s remark about economics, it seems like a failing educational system is a threat to national security. But such thinking requires, well…thinking, and that has become a rare ability in the GOP. Hugs and cheers, M

    Liked by 2 people

    • You hit the nail on the head … thinking is the key, thinking ahead, not just living for today and to heck with tomorrow. Today’s children are the future of the world … we must give them every opportunity to grow up learning to think, being innovative, and most of all caring about others.
      Big hugs ‘n cheers, my friend!

      Like

  3. All this talk about children and the negative “consequences” parroted by the Republicans … yet they want to ban abortion so there are even MORE kids out there getting the short end of the stick.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: A growl worthy story. | Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  5. Education is the most important issue all the time.. We ned to educate and entertain our very young children so they get pleasure from learning. That makes young adult education easier. For all of this there needs to be funding and if Jo Biden’s rescue plan covers this, as it seems to, there should be bipartisan voting on the issue, and not just denigration by the Republicans..
    Cwtch

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are so right, for today’s children are the only hope for the future. Teach them well, and the world will prosper, but fail to do so and the human species will become extinct. Sadly, there is an element in the U.S. today called the GOP that cares naught for the future, for our youth, but only for their bank account today. If they persevere, we are toast. Sigh.
      Cwtch

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for sharing!!.. there are two things that are more important to a percentage of Republicans than anything else is their “image” and their “wealth”… unfortunately, this is a capitalist country where profit comes over healthcare and the welfare of others… “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” (Helder Camara)… 🙂

    Until we meet again…

    May flowers always line your path
    and sunshine light your way,
    May songbirds serenade your
    every step along the way,
    May a rainbow run beside you
    in a sky that’s always blue,
    And may happiness fill your heart
    each day your whole life through.
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head, my friend. The Republicans care only about their own image and wealth, and the rest of us have no use beyond contributing to those two things, keeping them in power and rolling in dough. The Helder Camara quote is one I’ve used often and it is so true … the perception and the reality are 180° apart. Thank you, dear Dutch, for the Irish saying that always lifts my spirits just a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill, we trail other countries of import in education, especially in math and science, where we rank behind the top twenty countries. Part of the reason is we are not tending to our children with educational care, health care, etc. Here is a post on the piece written by conservative David Brooks about children in poverty hearing 32 million fewer words by the time they get to school. This is an economic issue, so it should be something Republicans would embrace – but these days every issue has to be considered a wedge issue to divide Americans into tribes. I am so very tired of this horse manure. Keith

    https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2021/03/26/32-million-fewer-words-a-reprise-from-nine-years-ago/

    Liked by 2 people

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