Revisiting Parents as Teachers
I’ve made my case against Parents as Teachers, and I suggested that the program limit eligibility to poor families. That idea was roundly rejected in the comments, on the grounds that Parents as Teachers would become another welfare program that taxpayers have to support but can’t benefit from. My answer to that is: It already is a program that many people have to pay for but can’t benefit from. Infertile couples and single people with no prospects of having children soon have to help pay the more-than-$1,000-per-family price tag for home visits to wealthy parents. And the Parents as Teachers educator doesn’t do anything your pediatrician couldn’t do just as well. You could spend a lot of time with a pediatrician for $1,000+.
This is a popular program that participants feel they gain a lot from, so I realize my opinions aren’t going to change how it’s run. That being the case, I wish people would stop making statements like this one in a letter published in the Post-Dispatch:
Studies have shown that parents who take part in Parents as Teachers are more involved in their child’s school once the child starts kindergarten.
Well-off parents who care about their kids will be the first to sign them up for programs like Parents as Teachers, and they’ll also be the most likely to be active in their kids’ schools. We can’t infer any causal relationship there as long as Parents as Teachers continues its current eligibility policy.