Pence, Pre-school and the Right-Wing Base

In case you were wondering why on earth Indiana’s Governor would refuse to apply for 80 million dollars in federal funds for preschool development, I point you to the most recent newsletter from the Indiana Family Association’s Micah Clark.

After urging his readers to “thank Governor Pence” for refusing that terrible, intrusive federal government support, Clark wrote

I disagree with the Governor and many others who support state preschool programs. I have yet to be convinced from the research that any benefits from the expensive programs attempted in other states are lasting and, therefore, the best use of Hoosier’s taxdollars. However, I completely agree with Governor Pence telling the federal government “no thanks.”

Here’s a key point. If the government offers “free” preschool only to those it approves, then churches, homes, and private alternatives are crowded out of the market. Over time, parents could actually have fewer choices.

As I heard one inner city pastor say, “the governor saved our preschool with this move.” AFA of Indiana supports parents having as many choices as possible, not just a one-size-fits-all. government dictated option.

It doesn’t take a lot of skill to read between those lines. Just follow the money.

We’ve seen this movie before. Every time the state legislature tries to pass minimum health and safety standards for daycare and preschools–usually, after a tragic accident at some unregulated, unsafe facility– conservative churches mount a hysterical assault on “big government,” and claim a religious right to be free of pesky (too-expensive) rules about nutrition, fire safety, minimum ratio of caregivers to infants and the like.

Churches operating daycare and preschool operations that don’t want to comply with health and safety standards are a big part of Governor Pence’s base. Those churches clearly didn’t want federal money funding safer competitors, and the Governor just as clearly got the message.

If poor Hoosier families lose out, so be it.

Ironically, the usual message of AFA of Indiana is: we don’t need no stinking preschool. Mothers should be home (preferably barefoot and pregnant) taking care of their own children, like God intended.

But if some mothers absolutely must work, and really have to leave their kids somewhere, it needs to be in a “bible-believing” facility that makes us money. If accepting federal dollars might threaten that business model, Indiana should refuse those dollars.

It’s always instructive to follow the money.

In this case, you can follow it to the other states whose children will benefit from 80 million dollars that our bible-belt state was too “pure and independent” to accept.


  1. Another nail in the coffin of education in Indiana; now we can look forward to the blathering Republican talking heads selling it as a good idea.

  2. ” Every time the state legislature tries to pass minimum health and safety standards for daycare and preschools–usually, after a tragic accident at some unregulated, unsafe facility– conservative churches mount a hysterical assault on “big government,” and claim a religious right to be free of pesky (too-expensive) rules about nutrition, fire safety, minimum ratio of caregivers to infants and the like.”

    I copied and pasted the above portion of today’s blog to point out that these “tragic accidents”, almost without fail, quickly disappear from the public eye. It is sad that we need so many laws to require people to behave sensibly, safely, rationally and with logical behavior to protect those in their care – whatever their age. Also sad that we need so many laws to protect us from one another. In this case, it is follow the money but with quirky political reasoning behind it. Had Republicans offered the $80 million, it would already be mostly gobbled up by all who qualify for a portion of what Republicans now consider a Big Government Handout in order to control. They are unaware (or believe we are unaware) of their own Big Money Ownership of Congress who is in control with little or no consideration for low income needs regarding education at all levels…and needs in many other areas. All we can do is start the ball rolling to get Pence – and Ballard – out of office by voting on November 4th. I live in fear that the GOP will return to Daniels or Pence for a presidential run with Ballard on the ticket as vice president. Both are already bought and paid for by the 1% with mega-millions wating for 2016.

  3. But, hey, it’s the indiana way.

    Pence needs to start offering the specifics of why the fed funds are inappropriate for indiana. No more vague generalities. I hope the bloggers, media, and the dems keep the pressure on for the specific reasons this would not be a good idea.

  4. Apparently Indiana has all of the educated people that it needs and therefore no more are required. The next generation can just live off of the thoughts of this one. Why should they need to think for themselves? Surely nothing both new and important will take place between this generation’s turn and the next.

    This is cynical but not unrealistic in terms of conservative non thought. Progress is over. We should just be thankful that we got the last heaping helping of it. We’ve run out of wind and we should just fire up the iron and motor on back to port.

    What they’ve demonstrated in both politics and business is that theirs is a self fulfilling prophecy. Expect no progress and you’ll get no progress. Focus on lowering costs at the expense of investing and you’ll get cheap. Kmart blue light specials. Look how well Kmart is doing.

    They, like fossil fuels, are just no longer affordable. The results of their influence are toxic to our future. It is them or us. It is them vs the US as the leading example of the success of democracy.

    Don’t throw away your vote this year. Grab democracy by the tail and start swinging. Vote, consume, invest like your progeny is desperate for your help. They surely are.

  5. LONG editorial in the Star this week defending this Pence nonsense… The author wonders (sort of) why Indiana folks keep voting for these awful right wing Republicans. I think I know why they keep voting against themselves. They were not properly educated in Indiana schools and they are not properly informed by their IN Newspapers. Only lack of education would explain people continuing to vote against themselves.
    Federal Money for Health care for poor Hoosiers? Not from that black man
    Federal Money for Kids education? Not from that black man
    Dumb dumb dumb and so predictable.

  6. This article caught my eye ––free-degrees–americans/16658027/ – Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a Hamburg senator, called tuition fees “unjust” and added that “they discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”

    Of course it is not “Free” the costs are paid for, but the opportunity for Society as whole is enhanced, by an educated population. Here in the USA Higher Education is like Health Care, you can have a Higher Education, Pre-K, or Heath Care if and only if you can afford to pay for it. Highest paid College Employees here in the USA are not Professors, but Coaches.

  7. A church that is focused on the common good will take initiative to make its preschool safer, better and more high quality than any of the others, not see what corners it can cut and ignore what is in the best interests of people. Good churches will be ahead of the government when it comes to the common good, not whining about “restrictive” rules that don’t allow them to educate little kids in a fire trap, and trying to educate them at a kindergarten religious level that will be jettisoned once the kids are old enough to think on their own.

    Furthermore, the idea that Clark has seriously read any literature, aside from the right wing yellow pages is laughable. Every once in a while, we see comments that “the research” has shown preschools are not effective. Clearly that is a misreading and misapplication of what we know, and, again, the product of right wing rags.

    But the people will get the government they deserve.

  8. Yes, that was my take exactly, fear of many small, predominantly church-run, pre-K schools would fear that their programs would not pass muster with Federal standards and measures of accountability. They have good reason to be concerned, because many of them are essentially just day-care centers, not really child development or educational facilities. They are often staffed with mostly unskilled low-wage care providers and, yes, sometimes in unsafe conditions. Whatever Gov. Putz and his FSSA stooges roll out in their pre-K experiment, it had better have good standards, controls and tools for ensuring accountability for results. And the desired result is a kid that is ready to enter Kindergarten, which, ironically, no longer has much to do with what its German inventors had in mind.

  9. With all of this talk about political opposition, religion, religious restriction, government monies, laws/rule/regulations, etc., I keep wondering when are the children allowed a childhood? A time to be kids, to learn to socialize, interact with family, learn who they are inside, find their interests, their goals and limitations, their likes and dislikes? If they are boxed in and force-fed education, not allwed to make decisions but only follow orders and provided what the system believes they need from toddlerhood forward; they are being formed into who the system believes they should be. Having been a working mother of 5, I am aware of the time limits to interact with our children of all ages but those early years of discovery and learning for a child is a beautiful time of life to see and be part of. Just sayin’

  10. Its only happening in Indiana because the brainless voters of Indiana make it possible. Too bad for the kids , who suffer the most. But the adults there are asleep. It will probably get worse.

  11. Having been involved in pre-K evaluations in public school, most people have no idea how those children with no preparation for kindergarten are at a disadvantage, already a year to two years behind most of their peers. Pre-K does a lot of developmental and social instruction that will be of benefit when they start formal public education. Most of these children come from homes where time, money and literacy levels may have a real negative impact on the ability of the parent/caregiver to prepare their charges for the future. Religious and private organizations who refuse to comply with reasonable health and safety requirements (that public groups must meet) are endangering children, not enriching their lives. The Governor is incompetent and is accountable to very small, vocal and politically connected individuals and groups. He is not acting in the interests of the children of this state or our future economic and political development. It would be different if Indiana could claim to be one of the best at educating their young people. Unfortunately, that is not the case and we all pay the price for his incompetence, both now and in the future.

  12. Three things usually control public policy: Money, prejudice, and pride. Most of the time, one will predominate or be in opposition to the others.
    What’s going on in Indiana now? The Perfect Storm. And there are many casualties to tallied up.

  13. Pence did this to serve two purposes: 1) he is running for President and needs the “anti-federal money to run up the debt” minority to carry his water; 2) Pence had Glenda Ritz and her staff do the lion’s share of the work on this grant — hundreds of hours — and when it was all ready for his signature, he refused to sign the application. This was definitely a bear-claw swipe at the Superintendent. What is interesting about this is that this is an application for grant monies — this was not a done deal. When the review panel sees all the applications, they rank them. Indiana could very well have not gotten the grant at all, and if it did, he could always refuse it, which would have been a much bigger swipe at Superintendent Ritz. But, that would look too partisan, so he chose not to even apply, after all the work was done. I, however, think all of this is going to backfire in his face. Once Pence starts the primary process, so many people have so much fodder to convince even the far right of the right of the right that this guy will do anything and say anything to become President, even hurt the chances for learning from a preschool program for low income children in his home state. This refusal is not about anything in the grant — it is all political, and the children suffer, the parents suffer, and the grown children deprived of this chance (if they cannot escape the state of Indiana) will continue to be low income and educationally behind their peers. He is worse than incompetent — he has deprived children — CHILDREN! — and nothing can justify this. If Indiana would have won this grant, he could have always refused it and stated as to why he would turn down as much as 80 million dollars. Right now we have gotten no substantive answers that make any kind of sense regarding signing the application and have his staff submit it. Whether Indiana didn’t win the money, or if awarded and subsequently refused, the money would simply revert to the next state in the food chain that applied. The money will be spent! What part of that fact Hoosiers against this grant do not understand is beyond comprehension.

  14. Get Pence and Mitch Daniels out of Indiana but don’t let them go to Washington. They are an embarrassment. They’ve just made themselves richer while people in Indiana can’t get insurance like other states or now a preschool education. They have been taking more of our money and giving us less in return for years. If you keep people in the dark they won’t know what you are really doing. Vote! Vote! Vote!

  15. I don’t think a lot of Indiana voters will be able to walk to the local poll booth. They’ve shot themselves in the foot for too long.

  16. I am not one of those brainless Indiana voters..I voted for Mr. Gregg. All I can say after reading this article is “Wow!” “If a mother absolutely MUST work and really HAVE to leave their kids somewhere.” This is the most chauvenistic comment. Pence is in the back pocket of the Koch Bros, the tea party, and the right wing Christian nuts in this state. It is a shame that he uses public school kids..not, those charter school kids…for his right wing political agenda. If the citizens in this state don’t get a clue and start paying attention to all of this crap this is going on..we are in a sorry state..I am ashamed to call myself a “hoosier” right now. Pence must be a one term governor!!

  17. Lynn: That wasn’t an actual quote, more of paraphrasing the way of thinking.

    As someone that serves on the board of a local church daycare, I’m not sure what you are talking about when you say profit. There is no profit. Most daycares operate in the red and are subsidized by the church. They often can’t meet the federal standards due to the locations within old church buildings, but nevertheless provide excellent care and preparation for school. From the parents of children that have graduated that I still know, the children were universally more prepared than other students from SAHMs and private daycares that charge 2 and 3 times more.

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