Another ‘freebie’ & overcoming double-talk

Another ‘freebie’ & overcoming double-talk

Consider it yet another in a long line of “progressive freebies” and, in this case, a “solution” in search of a problem.


Pittsburgh City Council will issue a formal request for proposals to offer free child care to city employees on the 15 days during the school year in which Pittsburgh Public Schools don’t have classes but city offices are open.


Think Election Day, teacher professional days and during holiday breaks. Snow days would not be eligible.


Additionally, the general public could use the child care to attend city-sponsored community meetings.


The program, expected to bow at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, is projected to cost $50,000 in the first year, to be paid, at least initially, out of the city’s general fund


Never mind that there already are a variety of city-, county-, state- and federally funded programs for those in need.


And never mind that, surely, many city employees have the financial wherewithal to pay, as they should, for their own child care in such situations.


And never mind further that employees could use vacation or personal time.
Mayor Bill Peduto is adamant about the need for such a program:


“Providing at-work child care is essential for attracting and retaining a talented and diverse workforce, and providing on-site child care at community meetings throughout the year will help eliminate unnecessary barriers that prevent families from investing in their communities,” he said in a news release.


Added City Council President Dan Gilman, “Data shows (sic) that family-friendly workplace policies reduce costly turnover and boost productivity. By offering at-work child care to our employees, the city is investing in its employees and ensuring that we continue to provide a high level of service to the residents of Pittsburgh.”


By essentially duplicating and undercutting readily available services — some subsidized for those truly needing help; others market-based for those who can afford it — that will only increase costs for city taxpayers?


This does not compute.


As one reader responded to the Post-Gazette’s version of the story:


“I pay well over $9,000 for my two kids to go to daycare each year. If corporations want to offer this, that is up to them. This is tax money that is going to be used. Now I am forced to pay for my daycare and that of city employees.”


The Nanny State knows no bounds in Pittsburgh. As KDKA’s Mike Pintek so adroitly reminded his listeners on Tuesday, proponents of this latest government freebie “are in some kind of netherworld.”


It’s “crazy,” he correctly concludes. After all, somebody has to pay for this.


Former Pittsburgh City Councilman Sala Udin has taken his seat on the board of the city school district. And Udin, a longtime critic of the failing school system, minces no words:


“I came out of retirement from public office because I believe the days of excuses are over. No more double-talk. No more excuses,” he said.


Udin longs for the day when parents “run to enroll their children in (city schools) just as fast as they are now running away to enroll in charter schools.”


Which will be a tall order indeed, given how Allegheny Institute President Jake Haulk framed Pittsburgh Public Schools’ problems in a May policy brief (Vol. 17, No. 21).


“Overall student academic performance languishes in a sorry state and the academic achievement gap (between white and black students) persists,” he said.


“And of late, graduation rates for African American students have plummeted,” Haulk continued. “Now a new superintendent offers yet another plan. It has serious flaws.”


That plan was proffered on the heels of a January report that, incredibly and tragically, found no progress in academic achievement since the same group’s last report a decade ago.


“(J)argon-filled, pretentious-sounding planning” is a poor excuse for dealing with the district’s chronic problems – a lack of annual improvement targets and massive student absenteeism, Haulk reminded.


This is what Sala Udin faces in his quest to overcome the excuse-makers and double-talkers.


Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (