April 23, 2002

HSLDA Continues to Fight Mandatory Preschool in DC

Washington, DC, Councilmember Kevin Chavous is holding several town hall meetings to get citizen input about his bill to force 3-year-old children to attend school. In the first meeting, those who attended witnessed the odd spectacle of Councilmember Chavous' own commission disagreeing with him. The commission recommended that free public education be available to all 3 and 4 year olds, but not mandatory. He did not accept their recommendation.

On March 28, Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Scott Woodruff testified against the bill, which would extend compulsory attendance in Washington to include children as young as 2 years and 8 months. Armed with an extensive research memorandum, attorney Woodruff demonstrated the ineffectiveness of mandatory early education and the huge waste of taxpayer dollars.

Mike Rits of Bolling Area Home Educators and one other parent also spoke against the bill, but most of those testifying supported the bill. Unfortunately, most of them thought that forcing 3 and 4-year-olds into school against their parents' wishes would be good for them.

While it is doubtful 3 or 4 year olds will benefit from being forced to attend school, it is clear the teachers' unions will. When 3 and 4 year olds merely attend "daycare," the caregivers may not pay dues to teachers' unions. If the exact same program is "public school," however, the unions will be ready to collect.

This may partly explain why the legislative web site for the NEA contains a position paper that states:

"The National Education Association (NEA) believes that public schools should be a primary provider of high-quality early childhood education programs, providing a full continuum of services to parents, caregivers, guardians, and children ages three to eight."

This position paper is dated June 2001, perhaps just coincidentally the same month the Washington Post announced Chavous' intention to file his bill. (see http://www.nea.org/lac/papers/early.html and Washington Post, Tuesday, June 19, 2001, page B 2.)

Not to be outdone, on July 12, 2001, the other large teachers' union, the American Federation of Teachers, issued a press release in which their president called for universal pre-school beginning at age 3. (see http://aft.org/press/2001/071201.html) One of those who spoke in favor of the bill during the town hall read to the audience from a publication of the American Federation of Teachers.

HSLDA will continue to fight this bill and is working with Congress to make certain it is voted down. This issue will not go away and everyone needs to be prepared to fight these types of bills in other states.

 Other Resources

Click here for a summary of the bill

Click here for President Mike Smith's comments on the bill