Thursday, March 09, 2006

Preschool Propaganda

I'm enjoying watching skuzbag Rob Reiner take heat over his organization's use of government money to promote his "universal preschool" intitiative. The Sacramento Bee's Dan Weintraub takes a closer look at what his organization was actually doing in this commentary.

Some of the excerpts of the memos are downright creepy to me. Dan Weintraub hits the nail on the head when he suggests: "If that's not illegal, maybe it ought to be."


At 4:26 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

Can't read Weintraubs take on the "meathead" flap as Leonidas refuses to provide SacBee with registration info but there is a pretty good account at:,0,3135407.story?coll=la-home-headlines

This is fairly typical of the progressive" bullshit that voters in the PRC have gone for "for the children".


At 7:13 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Ok. For Leo and others too paranoid to register with the Bee site, here's the text:

A controversial, state-financed advertising campaign aimed at ending public resistance to universal preschool is likely to come under even more widespread condemnation once people see how and when it all began.
A 2002 memorandum prepared for a state children's commission chaired by Hollywood director Rob Reiner explained that Californians didn't sufficiently support Reiner's vision of preschool for all - and laid out a strategy for using public funds to change that.

The California Children and Families Commission got its start in 1998 when voters approved the Reiner-sponsored Proposition 10, funded with a 50-cents-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax. The commission spent its first years concentrating on a task spelled out clearly in the ballot measure: educating parents about programs available for their own children.
But in a memo dated Oct. 30, 2002, the commission's advertising consultants laid out an entirely new goal: "creating demand" for the kind of universal preschool program that Reiner has since proposed in an initiative for the June ballot known as Proposition 82.

"In the past, the campaign has sought to inform parents and caregivers about how and why to improve the early development of their young children," said the introduction to the nine-page memo, typed on the stationery of the advertising firm GMMB.

"Now, we will seek to persuade all adults in California that maximizing early childhood development benefits everyone, and that they should therefore support state efforts to provide universally available early learning programs."

The 2002 research and the strategy memo it spawned were paid for with money Proposition 10 set aside for media and mass communication. The commission used that same fund to pay for a controversial, $23 million ad campaign that began airing last year just as Reiner and his allies gathered signatures for the initiative that became Proposition 82, which would raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for voluntary preschool for all 4-year-olds.

Reiner's role and the commission's spending have since come under fire in the Legislature and will be the subject of a review by the state auditor.

But whether or not the preschool promotion campaign is found to be an improper use of public funds, it was certainly a very unusual one. The 2002 memo was clearly part of an ongoing, state-financed propaganda campaign to transform public opinion and pave the way for Reiner's grand vision.

The memo discusses polling and focus group results, paid for with tax dollars, that uncovered what for the commission was a disturbing fact: Californians, for the most part, were not very interested in state-sponsored preschool.

"People see the early years as primarily the responsibility of parents," the memo warned. "We must break the constantly reinforced impression that 'education' starts at the age of five. In many respects, our biggest challenge is the fact that most people unquestionably believe that everything before the age of five is 'preparation' and therefore the responsibility of parents, and 'education' does not start until five."

Another problem: Many of those Californians who did see the wisdom of state-financed preschool believed that subsidies should be targeted to those disadvantaged families who needed help the most.

"Right now, there are strong predispositions to believe that state programs should be means-based," the memo said. "And of course, in an era of scarce resources, it makes sense to prioritize low-income families. However, if the long-term goal is universal availability of early education programs, we must begin to lay the groundwork now."

The polling found that women, African Americans and Latinos were most likely to be persuaded that preschool for all was a worthy goal, and it suggested that those groups be the target audience for ads.

"Our goal for white men should be acquiescence, not activism," the memo said.

The memo suggested that the commission continue the work it had already begun in educating parents about the difference they could make in their own children's lives. That campaign should go on, the authors said, "not just because it is important in and of itself, but also because it will also help to create more demand for improved programs from the state."

The goals of the advertising campaign dovetailed perfectly with Reiner's agenda for universal preschool. If the advertising worked, the memo said, it would "increase the perceived need for California to do more to help children ages zero to five" and "reduce the age at which people believe the state should offer" organized education.

"If we can move those numbers, it will mean we are both creating demand and changing the perception that formal education begins at the age of five," the memo said. "Accomplishing these goals will pave the way for making the case on behalf of a greater state role for children in their first five years of life."

Aside from the merits of the case for or against universal preschool, what the memo says about the commission's operations and motives is troubling. The commission and its consultants saw the public funds they controlled as a piggy bank to pay for a re-education campaign aimed at furthering their own personal and policy goals.

If that's not illegal, maybe it ought to be.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That ad campaign, the one that says that only kids who go to preschool will go on to be successful in school, in college, and in life REALLY upset my kids, who were fortunate enough to stay home til kindergarten.

We plug 'em into the state system soon enough. I'm glad to read this. I hope they put a stop to it. Thanks. Fred.


Post a Comment

<< Home