NOW with Alex Wagner | February 15, 2013
>>> playing well with others is a trait we could use in washington . maybe we need to bring the teachers up. yeah. every fwhuonce in a whale have some quiet time , time-out.
>> accustomed to dealing with the short attention spans of his fellow colleagues in washington , yesterday president obama met with the classroom of 4-year-olds in decatur, georgia, before outlining his ambitious proposal for universal preschool and early childhood education .
>> this works. you know it works. if you are looking for a good bang for your educational buck, this is it. let's make sure none of our kids start out the race of life already a step behind.
>> the federal state partnership would guarantee preschool access to 4-year-old from lower and middle income families. nearly half hour of the nation's preschoolers would qualify. steven barnett , director of the national snult for early education institute at rut derz says the biggest proposed change in american education since brown versus the board of education . early education advocates point to success stories in states including alabama and oklahoma and to studies showing reduced crime rates , lower drop-out rates, and higher incomes among those who attend preschool. critics point to the did hes couraging results of programs already in place like head start , and although the white house yet -- has yet to put a price tag on the program, estimates put the cost of the plan between $3 billion and $20 billion a year which will no doubt be a point of contention when president obama brings a plan back to washington . just add it to the list. here is msnbc's chris hayes , host of "up" for a little segment we like to call "up now."
>> it's going to get tiresome.
>> it's an amazing pun. you take the two names of the show and put it together.
>> like the liger.
>> so, chris , you know, i will say this. who knows if any of this is going to get done, but i think it is fantastic that we are having a conversation about the minimum wage , the importance of early education and what the reality here -- listen to this. listen to this, chris . at risk children who don't have an early education that's high quality are 25% more likely to drop out of school and 60% more likely to not attend college and 70% more likely to get arrested for a violent crime .
>> yeah. the data on this is pretty robust. it's obviously -- it ended up in the university of chicago getting the nobel prize . it's been -- it's almost like a cliche universal pre-k like worthwhile initiative. it's -- liberals are all like of course we have political -- make this a priority and, b, point of the fact that in red states , right, this is something that republicans have been able to get behind for a few reasons. one, it fits idealogically with the republican and conservative approach to inequality. the most sort of heavy-handed way to deal with inequality, if you are a kwvrn, is some kind of redistribution, higher marginal tax rates , reducing the minimum wage . this idea of a level playing field fits much more smoothly with idealogical conservatism self-conception with how to deal with inequality, and, b, it is not that expensive. i just want --
>> bang for your buck . bang for your become.
>> center for american progress estimated the cost of universal pre-k, and they came up with $100 billion over ten years. $10 billion a year. the tax extenders, just the tax extenders we passed in this last budget alone were $68 billion. that's just the variety of tax breaks that no one even debated and just got passed basically like, oh, of course. obviously.
>> tax breaks --
>> so it's that $680 million every ten years.
>> that's a one-year cost.
>> so $680 million over ten years. as opposed to --
>> or to angle tax breaks for oil and gas are $3 billion to $4 billion a year. david brooks , that bastion of liberal thought, he says this is rude to say. he writes, "this is rude to say, but here's what this is about. e-mail yonz of parents don't have the means or the skill or in some cases the interest in building their children's future. early childhood education is about building structures so both parents and children learn practical life skills. it's about getting kids from disorganized homes into rooms with kids from organized homes so good habits will rub off. it's about instilling achievement values where they are at." this is where why you are on the panel. the idea is that, you know, to chris 's point, this is something that conservatives can support for a variety of reasons, and would see -- education traditionally is --
>> what other proposal that obama has put out that is morrow bustly implemented in oklahoma and georgia. that is a big deal . the other thing i would like to point out is chicks dig it.
>> you're talking specifics, wow.
>> no, this is an issue that goes extraordinarily well. they poll extraordinarily well with women, including a more -- defense and minimum wage and wage issues. these are issues that play very, very well with women voters. and, further, sort of put the republicans in the corner on that.
>> let me move on and sort of speak on behalf of my readers at "businessweek." there is a very strong business case to be made for why this is a good thing. if you look at states like alabama, it was the business community that is interested in pushing this because they needed an kaelted work force , and they understand that it is important and helpful to do it at that early stage, has the best outcomes to lead their transeggs.
>> unless we think that everyone is going to just get around the fire and pass this. i mean, tlaz long history of conservative opposition to this. boehner already said no. i think it's important here that we think of the axises of the public and private sector . this is about another fight that happens just as often, which is what is the -- the very thing david brooks said, which is taking your kids out of the household and having the state educate them has been an enemy of conservatives and conservative thinking for a very long time and will face tremendous resistance by the evangelical base of the republican party .
>> it's one of the things that squelched the original universal attempt, mondale's push in 1971 .
>> when we talk about the economics of this, i do want to call everyone's attention to james heckman that did a cost benefit analysis , and it shows that if you spend $18,000 a year per student for pre-k, the annualized rate of return is between 7% and 10%. the stock market has grown at an average of 5.8%. can you not make the economic argument?
>> there are some cavats that are out there that have shown that the affect dissipates as children move through elementary school , and the really critical part here is that the teachers and this was part of obama's proposal. that the teachers at least have a bachelors degree and that they're compensated adequately because that is a huge factor in this. this is not a cheap plan.
>> a big take-away is the quality does matter, right? we know -- one of the things we know, and i thn right now as a parent, is that preschool is just under supplied by the market. the private sector actually just doesn't produce enough of it for the people that want it. forget about getting people that are outside of it. in new york city with neighborhoods with a lot of money, there are people on waiting lists.
>> for, like -- for people who are wealthy.
>> as to the argument that it fades as the kids -- you have a couple of quality pre-k education with full day kindergarten. full day kindergarten is enormously important. some of those things the state could pick up. when i became governor that was my frontal boundary one and you put one-third of the billion dollars into pre-k and full day, and by the team i left in my eighth year pennsylvania kids finished first in the nation on the nate test in eighth grade with readers wrshgz eighth grade. we started out in year one, and our eighth graders that went through pre-k and full day kindergarten, and for us with all of the english as second language cities that we have for us to be number one in reading was extraordinary, and it came from an investment. that investment has to go all wait through, and you're right, quality of teachers. we had a program called keystone stars that upped the salaries. you can't have different salaries for pre-k teachers --
>> than you do for regular school teachers. chris , before we go, i thought that, you know, we talk a lot about the american dream and mobility in this country and that's so much of the republican argument that's predicate odd this bootstrap mentality. the pew statistics on mobility from the charitable trust shows that 42% of american children who are born to parents on the bottom rungs of the income ladder will stay there. which i think is the most damning case.
>> i mean, we talk about inequality a lot, but the more damning thing about american society right now from the perspective of the sort of -- from conservative perspective is the decline in mobility, and the best we can know mobility has been declining over time , and it's also very low in the oecb countries. the class bound rigid hierarchies of europe --
>> 18th or 19th.
>> this is something that i think there's an emerging conversation about in universal pre-k seepz like a way of doing that. it's necessary, but not sufficient, but i'm glad to see the step.
>> i'm now wondering whether i went to pre-k, and i think i'm getting quietly angry at my parents because i don't think i did. i'll have to research that.
>> my parents -- my mom, to her credit -- i was. as a 3-year-old. my mom -- this is a perfect example. my mom and my parents, to their great credit, organized a coop pre-k in the neighborhood in the bronx i grew up in because one did not exist.
>> case in point.
>> every child should be this successful.