Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Statism | Tags: "It's For the Children", Ineffective and Unwise, The Head Start Program
It does not matter how often you show that a program does not work, and in the case of Head Start, studies have been showing it to be ineffective for years, but — it’s “for the children.” When a study has just emerged and funding would seem to be questionable, you just tack it on to another urgent bill, in this case, Sandy Relief, and $100 million.
A billion here, a billion there, who can keep track?
On January 4, Congress approved $9.7 billion in initial relief for victims of the storm. A second vote on the rest of the $60.4 billion aid package is planned for Tuesday, and among the numerous items unrelated to clean-up efforts is $100 million in additional funding for Head Start, the LBJ-era program that already spends $8 billion a year trying to prepare low-income toddlers for kindergarten.
Since its creation as part of the War on Poverty in 1965, nearly 30 million children have participated in Head Start at a taxpayer cost of more than $180 billion. The problem is that by the government’s own reckoning the program has never achieved what it promises.
The first major evaluation was in 1969 by the Westinghouse Learning Corporation and Ohio University. It found that pre-schoolers who did make cognitive gains did not maintain them in early grades and that Head Start participants performed no better than children from similar backgrounds who had never been in the program. Federal evaluations in 1985 and 2005 also found that any positive cognitive impact was transitory.
President Obama has said that education policy should e driven not by ideology but by “what works.” The administration in 2009 sat on a very positive performance review of the Washington D.C. school voucher program which it opposed. The Congressionally mandated study of the Head Start program was finally released more than a year late. Using the political cover of disaster relief to toss more money into a bad program at a time when the country is running trillion-dollar deficits is evidence of Congressional bad faith.
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