Biden just proposed a massive expansion of government. One of the main components is increased funding and support for childcare. I can’t say that I’ve reviewed his plan in detail, and I’m not sure if the execution is right, but in terms of worthwhile things to spend money on, helping lower and middle income families afford high quality childcare seems like a great choice.
The incredible irony, though, is that we currently have a system of high quality childcare for children five and up. It’s called *school*. Unfortunately, that system is still very much broken in many parts of the country, with schools in “hybrid” mode. In Washington, that means kids in grades K-5 attend school less than 50% time – four half days a week. A “half day” is two hours and forty-five minutes. And older kids attend 20% time – two half days a week, so 5.5 hours of total in-person schooling. In summary, kids are mostly still at home around here, and hence this system of childcare is broken.
This is inconvenient for the affluent, but it’s devastating for people on the edge. This is a story about a woman in Mississippi whose son is struggling with hybrid learning. There are a lot of problems with this story, including that his mother is struggling to live on $12 an hour working nights. But here’s the thing. School, five days a week, was one of the ways we used to support low income individuals in this country. And it’s also how people were supposed to be able to get a better job than their parent. The system has always had serious problems, but it just got a hell of a lot worse.
In Washington, they decided not to test students this year. Convenient! We won’t be able to measure how much ground has been lost.