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Opinion | Pre-Okay, Child Care and Other Priorities

To the Editor:

Re “Among the Family Benefits Proposed by the Democrats, Which Deserves Priority?” (The Upshot, Oct. 14):

Claire Cain Miller asked 18 academics to choose their top priority among four family policies: pre-K, child care, cash for parents and paid leave. Only half the experts chose pre-K, and the runner-up was up to $3,600 annually per child for parents.

If many respondents prefer cash for parents over early education, do they also believe we should eliminate kindergarten and give parents $3,600 per child instead? The impacts of high-quality early education on children’s future economic prospects can be comparable to the impacts of college, and much larger than the impacts of cash transfers to parents.

But education is expensive. High-quality pre-K costs about $13,000 per child, and education before age 3, otherwise known as “child care,” often costs even more. For many parents, $3,600 still leaves early education far out of reach. Giving parents cash is often framed as “empowering” because parents can spend cash however they wish. Good early education also “empowers” parents by freeing up their time to spend as they see fit, often leading to better jobs and higher income.

Ensuring that all children receive excellent full-time education is how we level the playing field from ages 5 to 18, and it’s how we can level the playing field at other ages as well.

Nate Hilger
Redwood City, Calif.
The writer is an economist, a data scientist and the author of “The Parent Trap: How to Stop Overloading Parents and Fix Our Inequality Crisis.”

To the Editor:

Learning begins before children enter the classroom. The earliest years of a child’s life are the time of the most rapid brain development, but a common assumption is that children “learn” in preschool and merely receive custodial care in child care.

At All Our Kin we know that quality family child care, provided in an in-home setting, offers positive educational and social outcomes, increased access to affordable care and flexibility for working parents.

Pitting equally crucial services such as child care and pre-K against one another is an antiquated approach to funding national priorities. Support for universal pre-K and paid leave is long overdue, but should not come at the expense of child care.

There are federal and state dollars for students when they reach kindergarten, but little before that. The House of Representatives is considering legislation that includes historic investments in family child care. Congress must maintain this in the final budget.

Family child care is an essential and educational public good, and lawmakers must not disregard — or misunderstand — its benefits.

Jessica Sager
Hamden, Conn.
The writer is co-founder and chief executive of All Our Kin, which supports family child care providers.

To the Editor:

Politicians often talk about “kitchen table issues,” named after the homey place where we sit to figure out family basics like how to pay bills or who’s watching our children while we work. Well, how sturdy is that kitchen table if it has only one leg and is missing the others?

That’s the framing by Senator Joe Manchin, who is reportedly telling Democrats to pick just one family-forward policy. The truth is, we need all of these policies — paid family leave, affordable child care, universal pre-K and child tax credits. Investing in all four covers intersecting areas of need that affect the entire life span of women and girls: education access, health and economic mobility.

Tables have four legs for a reason; picking just one policy will lead to a social system that’s just as wobbly.

Elizabeth Barajas-Román
Northampton, Mass.
The writer is the president and chief executive of the Women’s Funding Network, a philanthropic alliance for gender equity.

To the Editor:

Re “Chappelle Is Mad That We Aren’t Laughing,” by Roxane Gay (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, Oct. 17):

The lack of empathy from comedians regarding jokes about the L.G.B.T.Q.+ community often astounds me. Racist, degrading and dehumanizing jokes directed at socially and politically vulnerable groups used to be the staple of American comedy in the 19th and 20th centuries, displayed relentlessly in popular song, the stage, movies and TV.

In an earlier time, court jesters made fun of the rich and powerful, not those lacking social and political power. Anyone is fair game for the comedians of today — except for themselves, of course.

Greg Kissentaner
DeSoto, Texas

To the Editor:

Dave Chappelle isn’t lecturing. He isn’t serious. He’s tapping into people’s fears and anger, making us laugh about our fears and anger. It’s dangerous, but it’s a joke. He’s drawing out tensions that otherwise would fester. He is a joker, not a professor. What we learn, if anything, is perspective.

Joseph Oguiza
Tacoma, Wash.

To the Editor:

Re “The Rideshare Bubble Bursts,” by Greg Bensinger (Opinion, Oct. 18):

From the consumer’s perspective, it has always been more about the technology than just cheaper prices. Being able to call a ride from an app, knowing about how much it will cost in advance, being able to track when your ride will arrive to pick you up and tracking progress en route make for a far better consumer experience.

If the yellow cabs of the world had deployed this technology before Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing would have never taken off.

Chuck Catotti
Durham, N.C.

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