Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Head Start closures being reported

A report for WCTV by Julie Montanaro is being discussed on Facebook.

Here’s my take.  Some of the Head Start employees (often parents of the children enrolled) may suffer from the shut down, but there is evidence that any boost the children get disappears by third grade. 40 years and this is the research.    The report  ( Head Start Impact Study. Final Report. Washington, DC. January 2010) was sat on for four years and released on a Friday evening in Feb. 2010, so you may have missed it. Obama chose to increase the funding for Head Start anyway, as you can see from the graph, and maybe that’s the story. In government if spending billions doesn’t work, spend more.

The mission of Head Start was to give poor children a "head start" for school readiness—make up for all that middle class children got at home in vocabulary, reading readiness, socialization, good nutrition, etc. It was part of that social experiment called the “War on Poverty” of the 1960s. 40 years and $8 billion later it has failed in its mission. The most successful event to lift children out of poverty is the marriage of their parents. Co-habiting parents yields about the same results as single parent home. Poverty falls to 8% compared to 56% for single parent families. Marriage of parents also gives them a boost in health and education, and children raised with fathers are less likely to enter the criminal justice system.

Uncle Sam just isn't a good step-father because government can't be a parent and apparently isn't all that great at being a pre-school facilitator. Head Start isn't the only program--many churches support pre-schools in low income neighborhoods (mine included). My neighbor runs one--it's a delightful program. And the results are about the same--dedicated, loving, committed personnel pour their lives into these kids. The best we can say about Head Start (and private charities that do this) is that the children are safe, well cared for, and often employs the parents.

Buried deep in this article about budget increases for Head Start FY2011 you find a reference to the 2010 report of its failure of mission, although it doesn’t link to the government report I cited above.

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