Head Start Program gets a failing grade

I wish the Transform Rockford group great success. However, there is one area that needs rethinking: that of the Head Start Program. Started in 1965 (under President Lyndon Johnson), the idea of getting preschoolers ready for kindergarten via Head Start began as merely a summer program for disadvantaged children. This early childhood education was supposed to cover nutrition, social skills, health, well-being and so on. This quickly expanded into year-long programs for 3- and 4-year-olds. Today, this Head Start Program costs the taxpayers almost $9 billion!

Three years later, in 1968, I remember this well: studies were revealing that there was no difference between the now third-graders who had attended Head Start and those who did not. Yet, our Congress passed the Human Services Act in 1981 to expand the program. In 2007, the program was also adjusted to address the systemic poverty among lower incomes. Yet, at the same time, in 2007, reports declared that Head Start’s failures are sufficient to warrant its abolition.

In 1998, Congress ordered a study of the effectiveness. The New York Times stated that Head Start had “little meaningful impact” in a child’s later achievement.

In 2011, Time magazine said, “Head Start must be eliminated.” Be careful, earnest transformers, about pursuing this fruitless goal.

Alice Kaczmarek

From the May 7-13, 2014, issue

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