A Military Perspective On PreschoolAmen.
As a retired military officer, I am concerned with the debate about whether to fund the proposed expansion of the Virginia Preschool Initiative. I am concerned because opponents are often vigorous, employing one of two tactics, neither of which seems defensible.
One of these tactics is political - the attempt to stir partisan opposition to the proposal solely because it is championed by a governor from the opposing party. This tactic, of course, is contrary to a military way of doing business, where decisions are based on reason and empirical evidence rather than political motives.
The second tactic is the "yes, but" approach, as in "we think expansion of preschool is a good idea, but it's too costly," or "but there are too many practical barriers to overcome," or similar yes-but evasions.
To a former officer, "yes, but" has the ring of excuse-making or lack of commitment to the objective, both of which must be overcome to stay on course.
So why should you care what a retired sailor like me thinks about preschool?
You should care, because the military cares, and deeply, about this topic. So deeply, in fact, that starting nearly two decades ago, the Department of Defense launched a services-wide initiative to increase the availability of high-quality early education programs for its youngest dependents.
The military took up this mission to ensure that children of military parents would start kindergarten ready to succeed. Military leaders championed the cause, funds were allocated, programs were made available so all parents could afford high-quality programs.
The effort proved so successful that government and private-sector policy experts began lauding the military's initiative as a model that should be emulated in the civilian sector.
Why such a strong commitment by the military to quality early education and school readiness? Quite simply, the decision was prompted by the following circumstances:
* A large number of military spouses working outside the home
* Half of today's service members have one or more children under age 5; this amounts to nearly 500,000 across all the branches
But there was another commitment, a common-sense one: to do the right thing for children and their parents in uniform.
So, from the perspective of an observer who has seen how this can succeed, I must now ask why some Virginia decision makers seem so reluctant to follow the lead of their military counterparts.
To borrow a naval phrase, we need all hands on deck. Vote to use the lessons learned in the military as a shining example. Access to high-quality, affordable child care for all should be expanded in our state so that all our children have a fighting chance to succeed.
Vice Admiral, USN (ret.)
There was a political rally for Obama in Virginia Beach here this evening. Unfortunately, what with the kiddos and all, I didn't think it was a good idea to attend. (It's T's Navy Reserve weekend, so I'm on my own with the kiddos.) I hear it was a good time with lots of noise and lots of people. I have to admit it's kind of nice to hear Virginia's primary described as "pivotal" even if it is the local paper doing it. I'll just try to forget that we were all but ignored before the Wednesday after Super Tuesday and enjoy it while it lasts. I know all the politicians will evaporate from the Commonwealth after Tuesday's election.
Speaking of politics, the D.C. Metro Moms (and all of their sister sites) are writing about politics and voting today. Head on over and check it out. I'm sure there will be some entertaining and controversial pieces going up throughout the day.
I have some pictures from the zoo up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles. You can see what a hellion my Holden is when allowed to roam free from the confines of his stroller....