Allen Sanchez wrote in Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal about the need for New Mexico to invest in early education. His plan is to use permanent fund dollars (as opposed to General Fund money) to pay for the plan. Unlike many fiscal conservatives, I don’t hold the permanent fund to be sacrosanct (if we used the fund to eliminate New Mexico’s personal income tax, I’d be all for it), so that is not my disagreement with Sanchez.
My real issue is with the supposed effectiveness of early childhood education. Perhaps it can be done right, but it is well-documented that the largest such program (Head Start) is a miserable failure.
Rather than expanding New Mexico’s failing educational system even more, policymakers need to focus on turning around the existing system. Interestingly enough, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have worked with Sanchez on the issue of school choice and reforming the current system, but they have (again) chosen to focus attention on other issues.
Regardless of what you think of early childhood education, the fact is that if our K-12 system is not improved dramatically and immediately, having really prepared 5 year olds is just not going to do much.