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Why do Idaho, five other states spend nothing on preschool? Political and family culture - Rally For Montana's Future Superheroes!, 3/17, Helena, Montana

March 16, 2017View for printing

"Preschool can be a great resource in rural communities," said John McFarlane, the district superintendent who doubles as the seventh- through 12th-grade principal. "We can't go to the museum; we can't go to the Discovery Center. We don't have licensed day care. We don't want to assign (our kids) to a rural life for their whole life if they want something else."

A significant body of research shows that high-quality preschools produce long-term academic and social benefits for children. Nevertheless, resistance to spending on preschool runs deep in Idaho and the other hold-out states, not least because they are home to voters and politicians who strongly believe in family autonomy and minimal government intervention.

Those philosophies bump up hard against the reality that 57 percent of Idaho children under age 6 live with parents who work elsewhere during the day, according to Kids Count, a national survey. Those children have to go somewhere while their parents work.

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Rally For Montana's Future Superheroes!, 3/17, Helena, Montana
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