American Elephants

Liberals Never Give Up On a Failed Program! by The Elephant's Child

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), ranking member of Democrats simply not serious about spending, went on a rant yesterday about a Nevada cowboy poetry festival. Cowboy poetry has a place in the folkways of the country and follows in a long tradition.  Men stuck in occupations that require long boring stretches of simply watching, often turn to creating poetry about their boredom.  Sailors in the Royal Navy in the 19th Century often composed poems, usually of dreadful quality, that are preserved in the British archives.  We’ve seen videos of our soldiers and marines in Iraq composing rap songs about their days, and out in the West  a herd of cattle moves v-e-r-y slowly and gives a cowboy lots of time to compose.

The bawl of a steer
To a cowboy’s ear
Is music of sweetest strain;
And the yelping notes
Of the gray coyotes
To him are a glad refrain.

The cowboy poetry might have gotten the most attention, but on the Senate floor Harry Reid also pleaded preposterously for the failed Head Start preschool program. If you cut federal funding, he said:

Here are some of the consequences. … It will kick 200,000 Head Start students, the poorest of the poor—little boys and girls trying to get started in life—it will kick them off their ability to learn to read and do elementary math. Hundreds in Nevada will suffer from that. This is a very successful early education program. Head Start works.

This is simply proof of my frequent claim that Democrats never give up on a failed program, it just needs continued funding, or more funding, because their intent was pure. They are simply impervious to evidence.

— The Department of Health and Human Services, the agency that administers Head Start, found that the program which provides taxpayer-funded preschool to low-income children, has been completely ineffective at improving academic outcomes for the children it was created to serve as shown by a nationwide study of 4,600 children.

— The 2010 Head Start Impact Study found that the program failed to improve the cognitive abilities of four-year-old children and actually had a harmful effect on the math skills of three-year-old children, according to teacher assessments. Overall, this 45-year-old Great Society relic failed to have a positive impact on 110 out of 112 outcomes measured.

— The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found fraudulent activity within the Head Start Program.  An undercover investigation found that Head Start Staff told fictitious families sent in by GAO how to misrepresent their eligibility by hiding portions of family income to make the family eligible for participation.

Any number of studies over the years have consistently found that, though well-intended, the program simply does not help.  When he signed the bill in 1965, Lyndon Johnson said:”Today we reach out to five and a half million children held behind their more fortunate schoolmates by the dragging anchor of poverty.”  Head Start would be their “passport” out.

President Obama raised the funding for Head Start for $6.8 billion in 2008 to $9.2 billion in 2009.  It costs $22,600 to keep a child in a year-round Head Start program.  Typical preschools run around $9,500.  What matters to liberals is the idea of a program that would provide care, nutrition, education and skills to impoverished preschoolers to overcome the handicaps imposed by poverty.  This lets liberals feel good about their compassion, and allows them to condemn anyone who objects to the expenditure as mean-spirited and heartless.

Oddly, the program that allows impoverished children to overcome the handicaps imposed by poverty, the one that really works, the Opportunity Scholarships in the nation’s capitol, were dumped by liberals in Congress because the teachers’ unions were opposed to them.  Go figure!

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