Santa Ana's Celeste Collins is an office assistant with five children, three of whom are in the county program. "They raise my daughters during the day because I can't. I have to work. I work very hard for my money," she said. "I don't expect them to watch my children for free. I pay partial cost. But I cannot afford $200 a week per child for regular care. This is the only thing that allows me to work and stay off welfare. I don't want to go on welfare and sit at home not making anything for my children's future. This allows me to ensure that they have something to come home to.
"Without the child-development centers, they would have to go where the people watching them are low-paid and unqualified. The board doesn't appreciate how much good this program does. They have a reserve fund they could take the money out of if they go over budget, but they'd rather spend it on 'My Child Is an Honor Student' bumper stickers."
In Dr. Williams' Register piece, he points out that the government program, in which the teachers make some $20 an hour, can't compete with the efficient private sector, where pay is below $10. And if you look at it only on a ledger, I guess there isn't much difference between hiring professionals trained in child development and early education and hiring, say, anybody who's willing to work for less than they'd make shampooing carpets.
I bet they can even get them cheaper. Hell, why not hire winos and pay them with Ripple? Kids love winos. They, of course, can't provide the professional caring and competence that might help the kids to be better citizens and more productive workers. But winos are good because they'll let kids work the remote and are usually content to watch whatever. It is, after all, only the private sector that has the entrepreneurial spark to provide innovative child-development programs like Nickelodeon Marathon and Naked Movie Star.
"Why should the government take the most vulnerable of society and put them in government institutions?" asks Williams. This is the sort of question I might more expect from a Branch Davidian than from a member of government—which I regret to note that you are, doctor —but I'll attempt an answer: it is because government isn't necessarily a malevolent, shadowy force sapping our liberty and precious bodily fluids. It is us. Government is the instrument of our will, doing such things as we have deemed we might best do in common rather than singly. If it fails in that, it is because we as citizens have failed in directing it, which, I think, is becoming clearer in our choice of Department of Education board members.