First, reliable research establishes that the formal pre-K programs producing the meaningful, lasting educational and societal benefits the Mayor touts are taught by licensed teachers, using standardized curriculum, with the support of trained coaches. Most successful programs are administered by school districts and educational institutions.
But the programs the Mayor wants taxpayers to fund don’t use licensed teachers. They use “early childhood educators,” for whom “daycare instructor” is a step up on the career ladder. In addition, the Mayor’s programs will be overseen by the Children, Youth and Families Department. CYFD is not an educational organization advancing use of a standardized curriculum. CYFD licenses daycare facilities to make sure they meet health, safety and related requirements.
Second, the tax will do little to support healthier food choices in low-income households. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that low-income families spend almost 10 percent of their SNAP (food stamp) benefits on sweetened drinks, which is more than they spend on milk. Thus, an increase in the cost of sweetened drinks, without a change in food-buying habits, will decrease the share of benefits available for other items and thereby reduce low-income children’s access to nutritious foods.Country Time LemonadeCountry Time LemonadeOthers who routinely buy sweetened beverages will avoid the cost of the tax by going outside the city to make their purchases. And who can blame them? The cost of a tax that will increase the price of a canister of Country Time lemonade mix from $6.98 to $28.74 ought to be avoided.In pushing for this tax, the Mayor has baited the community with the promise of quality pre-K education programs and improved community health. But his costly scheme will deliver neither.The Mayor and his allies know this, and they should stop demonizing those who oppose the tax by calling them anti-child, anti-family, and lacking in values and community-mindedness. In fact, those opposing the Mayor’s scheme care deeply about children, family and community values. We just don’t demonstrate our care by advocating expensive but ineffective government programs funded by OPM (other people’s money).Opponents care about the poor who will carry the greatest burden of the Mayor’s tax. We care about the hardworking owners, managers and workers at our local restaurants, grocery stores, neighborhood markets, movie theaters, Starbucks, McDonald’s, LotaBurgers and soft drink distributors, whose jobs and family security are at risk because of the tax. We care about the small, independent contractors who fill our soft drink machines. For us, the work and sacrifices these hardworking, everyday heroes make to support themselves, their children and often their parents should be exalted, not diminished.We are these folks.
We are neither greedy nor selfish simply because we stand in opposition to the Mayor’s tax. Our “NO” vote on the Mayor’s tax doesn’t mean we disagree that quality pre-K educational programs are valuable, or that excessive sugar consumption is harmful.It means we want better. We want and need a Mayor who focuses on the job he was elected to do, like making sure our roads are in good repair, our trash is collected, our parks are well-kept, and our streets and neighborhoods are safe. We don’t need a Mayor who advances his own political agenda at the expense of the community he was elected to serve