Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Head Start Is the Right Start

Since January of this year, when the congressionally-commissioned Head Start (HS) Impact Study was released (here), many people have been calling for an end to this $7B ‘colossal example of government waste’. I think they are wrong. The basis of these calls is the study’s finding that the benefits provided to three and four-year olds dissipate by the time they finish first grade.

Now raise your hand if you believe that any gains were permanent, minus other support? I thought the idea was to get disadvantaged kids up to the level of the average kid entering school, so they would have a better chance. Between what the kids and their parents learn, I ‘m sure some people hoped that the effects would be permanent, but should we be surprised that they are not? How much instruction and other support did the care givers actually receive? Should we just wipe our hands and say we tried? I don’t think so.

It is abominable that we have done so little for these kids in K-6, besides a HS boost, and yet expect so much in return. Early education should not be sink or swim, but rather swim or swim better. The needs of kids vary widely, starting with how well they match up physically and mentally to their grade, by age. There should be more latitude to place kids where they best fit emotionally and intellectually, regardless of their birthday.

It makes sense that whatever is disadvantaging the HS kids would not just disappear after kindergarten and first-grade. The better question is figuring out what is making early learners (K-6) fall behind and stay there. I will certainly bet that as much as Head Start is an intervention, when it stops, the benefits dissipate. Whether it is being read to, fed nutritiously, or given regular and mandated dental service, we can bet that these kids are not getting the full measure of what they need to flourish in school.

So, instead of clamoring for an end to Head Start as a waste, we should be asking ourselves, how to come behind it and not lose it’s gains. As a YMCA volunteer Board member and Head Start supporter, I would push for extending our current HS program to become a K-6 after-school/Sat. study/activity/meal program. I am confident - but willing to be measured - that greater support through the developmental years will set most of these kids on a deserving educational and positive social course.

James C. Collier


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ASTRA REED said...

Yea this is really very true parents should know how to handle their kinds in k-6 and then its the duty of parents to teach them each and every listen which they have face in their future or life's i appriciate your idea... good job...

Mr. Sean said...

We can not afford this expense while there are two land wars in Asia (one in landlocked Afghanistan) to be fought and won.

Keep in mind that the Afghans, poorly educated, poorly equiped and poorly trained, are fighting our well educated, well equipped, and well trained boys to a stand- still.

Logic and common sense demand that it is our duty as Americans to produce a generation of ignorants fit to stand toe to toe with this distant enemy.

Head Start is the terrorists' best friend.

atldude said...

Totally agree with "The better question is figuring out what is making early learners (K-6) fall behind and stay there."

Once that is answered - if it can be - then put the money into something effective.

Anonymous said...

I can see how this program would be a positive thing but.....

It is addressing the symptoms of being "disadvantaged" whatever that is. Is it not having decent parents or parenting? I imagine that plays a large role.

We need to address the root causes of people that aren't fit to being parents having children.

We know how difficult it is to adopt. Many hoops to jump through before being approved as parents fit to raise an adopted child.

I must ask, why then is it perfectly acceptable for people to have children naturally when they would NEVER be approved to adopt?!?

Poor parents raise children poorly and the children suffer for it and recreate the same situations in their lives a large percentage of the time.
It is indeed a time for a change...

If adoptions are so stringent then having children at all should be as stringent. The long term social ills this would alleviate would be remarkable.

James C. Collier said...

Earth to Anon 5:19, come in please. You cannot be serious. We cannot even control who drives a car, licensed, insured, sober, or otherwise, but you want to control who gets to have babies? Please explain how we do that, starting with who gets to be on the God-committee?

Anonymous said...

DO "we" control adoptions and very strictly so? Yes.Why? So children will have good parents who will care for them in a way acceptable to those setting the criteria for people adopting which gives that child a better chance at having a good life.

Earth to Mr. Collier, how many children have to suffer in so many ways, emotionally, physically, etc. at the hands of their own sorry excuses for parents which should be considered a crime equivalent to child abuse, before someone takes this issue with it's many social problems seriously??

The welfare of all children should be equally as important as those being adopted. What makes it acceptable for any naturally born kids to have extremely poor parents when adopted kids have their parents go through rigorous examination?

Nothing makes it acceptable.

How do you do it? Simple.

We insist children get vaccinated all the time.
No big deal. We know it is to protect our children from disease.
Why not protect them from pregnancy?

Implantable birth control in all girls after the first period.
ALL girls. They keep implanted until 18. That alone would make a big difference. All girls surely aren't being raised to know it is not good to have a kid as a teen and it is getting worse in certain circles as stats report.

No doubt most believe in adoption criteria so why shouldn't all children get the same chance to have good parents....
To really make a difference implant all women that don't meet adoption criteria.
If those criteria are acceptable for adoption then why not natural child birth?

Oh sure, it's against my rights.
The right to what?
Bring a child into this world to abuse them in a multitude of ways because that parent has no idea what it takes to be a parent and many times they don't even care enough for their own child to give a damn how they are raised?

Some right that is. The right to ruin a life.

Anonymous said...

My problem with Head Start

I have a pre-adoptive son I tried to get into Head Start. Head Start refused to take him because he had been diagnosed with autism at 14 months old. I do not think they should be able to pick the "best" disadvantaged students for their program, but they do.

The amusing thing is they only read the first page of the report which said that he had been diagnosed with autism. They never got to the second page which stated that there was no way the diagnosis was correct. (I think this is how children stay labeled their entire school careers - no one wants to read past the first page.)

I think these young children need to spend time with their families, not in an institutional setting, so instead of providing more government care, why can't we have supports for the family - training them to be better resources for their children. I am glad my son was not allowed into Head Start (the social worker wanted it, I did not), in this way he can spend more time with me, and I can be the one to teach him.

For full disclosure: I am an upper-middle class white stay-at-home homeschooling mom of three African American children.

atldude said...

anon8:32 - while in theory your idea is sound, in honesty there is no way that anyone would ever push that idea forward. It'd be seen as a move to wipe out the black race, for one. Oh wait, that fear is already there: Black Children are and Endangered Species

Anonymous said...

atidude, it would have to be across the board, no exceptions, all girls, all races.

I wonder too that if a safe BC was found for men would most that would go against the girl BC not feel as negatively for all males to have to have BC as teens?

I think not.

Regardless something needs to be done for the welfare of all people and this would help.