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It’s not like Rep. Bert Atkins, D-Florissant, didn’t know before he got to Jeff City that Republicans will vote against common sense legislation out of pure ideology, but seeing is believing. And he had just seen it happen again when I walked up to him Tuesday to talk about his experience as a freshman legislator.

We had both heard Republican Ed Emory expounding into the mike about the terrible idea of instituting a quality rating system for pre-schools and insisting that such a system takes parents further out of the loop in making decisions about their children’s education.


A quality rating system would tell parents what kind of educational opportunity their child would receive at a given pre-school. Some schools cost more than others; parents need to know if that’s because a given school actually offers more than others. The QRS would give them some solid information to help them decide whether additional money would be well spent. Maybe they can’t afford a five star (or whatever the rating system would be) school, but four stars is still pretty good and perhaps they can afford that. It would take some of the guesswork out of the decision.

How is giving them that guidance taking parents out of the loop, Bert wanted to know.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Republicans distrust “government intrusion,” but this proposal would not be very intrusive. Participation is completely voluntary. Even the schools operating out of someone’s home could choose to participate or not. That’s called minimal intrusiveness with maximum helpfulness. And anyway, so what if the rating system is–gasp–intrusive? So are speed limits and Sunshine laws. One man’s “intrusion” is another man’s “safeguard”.

The amendment was not stripped from the omnibus education bill that failed on Tuesday, and perhaps several Republicans voted against the bill to protect Missourians from such government intrusion.

Whatever. Bert was shaking his head. He’s seen an awful lot of such nonsense in the last four months.