Press "Enter" to skip to content

Down with Socialism! Down with Capitalism! No Matter What, No Public Preschool!

Last year Republicans killed Representative Erin Healy’s (D-14/Sioux Falls) proposal that the state study—just study—the need for pre-kindergarten education on Speaker Steven Haugaaard’s (R-10/Sioux Falls) premise that preschool is socialism. This year Republicans killed Representative Healy’s new preschool-study proposal, House Bill 1237, on the premise that it helps crass capitalism:

…Concerned Women for America opposed the bill, saying that working parents prefer to leave their children with family or friends instead of schools. Parents are “creative” in figuring out how to stay home with their children, lobbyist Linda Schauer said. Federal programs such as Head Start already provide programs for children, she said.

“Parents of young children should not have free childcare and free preschool dangling before them, enticing both parents to join the workforce rather than to continue to raise their own children,” Schauer said [Lisa Kaczke, “Lawmakers Reject Bill to Study Early Childhood Education Gaps in South Dakota,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2020.02.25].

Well, at least the Concerned Women recognize that capitalist materialist impulses harm family life.

But Linda Schauer needs to check her group’s economic and familial logic. She seems to assume that parents don’t want to spend time with their children, that they would rather see their children warehoused with strangers, and that they would rather spend time in the workplace subject to the arbitrary and unchecked rule of their bosses than be at home where they can exercise near total autonomy. She seems to assume that offering a public service (which, as proponents noted Monday, would improve learning outcomes and decrease social costs like crime and drug addiction) makes the parental impulse disappear and unleashes pure selfish acquisitiveness.

Let’s test Schauer’s assumptions by comparing South Dakota, which does not offer “free” preschool, to Minnesota, which does offer “free” preschool. (Come on, we all know public services aren’t “free”; we agree to pay for them together, as a community.) According to the Annie E. Casey Kids Count Data Center, in 2018, 77% of Minnesota children under age 6 had all available parents in the workforce. In South Dakota, that percentage was 76%. Iowa funds preschool and has 77% of little kids in all-parents-working households; North Dakota is cheap like us and has 76%. There are at least 39 other states that fund public preschool and have lower percentages of all-parents-working families than South Dakota.

You want parents to stay home to take care of their kids? Most would be glad to, if they could afford to. Instead of portraying working parents who place their children in preschool as morally inferior, the Concerned Women should tell their God-fearing members (wait—who actually belongs to the CWA?) to pay their workers higher wages so they can work fewer hours and spend more time with their kids. Higher wages are capitalism that work for everyone. In the meantime, we can use a little more socialism—i.e., neighbors working together and shouldering burdens that individuals cannot carry as efficiently—to support real family values.


  1. Donald Pay 2020-02-26 13:15

    It is kind of dumb not to study early childhood education in the broad sense. Other places are finding ways to integrate home-based and center-based day cares into a Pre-K program. I’ve had doubts about universal Pre-K, but early childhood screenings, combined with training for parents, might be a way to deliver more individual service that take into consideration the needs of each child. If you have limited dollars, it makes more sense to put those dollars to use for the children and parents who need help rather than to spread it around to everyone, many of whom are progressing just fine. But you should be willing to study these things.

    It’s nice when you can work things out to have a parent available for children all the time. We were able to do that for my daughter’s first three years, and much of the time after that until she went to kindergarten. But most parents don’t have that option. Concerned Women of America seem stuck in the 1950s, if not the 1850s.

  2. Eve Fisher 2020-02-26 13:38

    For as long as I can remember conservatives have been uniformly against anything that would actually help working families thrive. From Mrs. Quayle’s breathtaking statement “I CHOSE to stay home with my children” (yeah, and your husband made a ton of cash as a lawyer, didn’t he?) to the rage against any idea of universal health care, from opposition to pre-school and to daycare subsidies (nanny state), the assumption is that parents – specifically, mothers – are out there working because they’re selfish, not because they need to feed their families. And almost no one can do that on one income anymore. But, in the tradition of trickle-down economics and incarceration to cure addiction, the conservatives continue to deprive people of the help they need to raise families while trying to make sure no one gets hold of any kind of immoral birth control products. Basically, they’re trying to prove the Jimmy Breslin adage, “The poor can never be made to suffer enough.”

  3. Debbo 2020-02-26 21:30

    I think there ought to be some kind of special award, an enormous medal perhaps, for Rep. Healy. She works hard to do the best thing she can for all children. She searches for the most palatable way to present it to the hateful GOP, and they come up with the stupidest, most ignorant, small minded, petty, heartless bullchit to deny that good plan.

    Rep. Healy deserves the medal because she has not beaten the ever living crapola out of any of those idiots. I stand in awe of her.

Comments are closed.