Head Start – it’s “For the Children” even when it is a failure.

by Skip

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”

– President Barack Obama, Inauguration, 1/20/09

SchoolhouseWe TEA Partiers are always being accused of wanting to get rid of Government as Progressives desire it and here in NH, the Free Staters are all accused of being outright anarchists that want no government whatsoever.  Well, the former is true – we want a limited government that yields a good value: a limited government that carries a small number of tasks extremely well.  In that aspect, the Free Staters (the real anarchists aside) also agree in that a limited government, by necessity, will provide an enlarged degree of Individual Liberty and Freedom.

So, back at the beginning of LBJ’s Great Society (which further pushed the Progressive Society started by Wilson, moved along by LBJ, and almost finalized by Obama), Head Start was created – a program to assist low income, inner city kids, to get a “head start” educationally, to get caught up with “the richer kids who have built in advantages”.  Problem is, there was a lot of concern from Conservatives that this has been nothing but a money sink with little results to show for it. Did it really give those kids the boost that Liberals swore was going to happen?  Er, no – #FAIL (emphasis mine):

Washington politicians interested in never cutting a dime from Washington’s spending can bring forth the name of Head Start quicker than the name of their own districts. It’s a heart-string puller. It has its roots deep in the Great Society, established in 1965 and expanded over the years to become one of the country’s longest-running programs to combat the effects of poverty. More than 20 million American children have gone through the program, which is designed to impart parenting skills to parents, and cognitive, emotional, and health improvements to children. Over the years, the program has cost $180 billion.

For the second time in two years, a Congressionally mandated study of the Health and Human Services program has shown it does not work. Its published date is October 2012, but it wasn’t released until after Obama’s election, presumably so Democratic campaigns could safely accuse Republicans of not caring about children and ignore the actual results of the programs they favor.

The Hot Air post quotes the Heritage review:

In 2010, HHS released the findings of the Head Start Impact Study, which tracked the progress of three- and four-year-olds entering Head Start through kindergarten and first grade. Overall, Head Start had little to no positive effects for children who were granted access. [3]

For the four-year-old group, compared to similarly situated children not allowed access to Head Start, access to the program failed to raise the cognitive abilities of participants on 41 measures.  Specifically, the language skills, literacy, math skills, and school performance of the participating children failed to improve.

Alarmingly, access to Head Start for the three-year-old group actually had a harmful effect on the teacher-assessed math ability of these children once they entered kindergarten. Teachers reported that non-participating children were more prepared in math skills than those children who participated in Head Start.

Head Start also had little to no effect on the other socio-emotional, health, or parenting outcomes of children participating in the program. For the four-year-old group, access to Head Start failed to have an effect for 69 out of 71 socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes. For example, “Teachers reported that Head Start group children were more shy or socially reticent than the control group children.” [5] The three-year-old group did slightly better; access to Head Start failed to have an effect for 66 of the 71 socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes

President Obama, you talked about ” but whether it works” and has said that programs that don’t work should be cut.  By this study, Head Start is a complete failure for this early aged cohort.  And looking to see if there was any improvement down the line – they evaluated the program participants now in Third Grade:  By third grade, Head Start had little to no effect on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting outcomes of participating children.

President Obama has pledged to use only one test when determining which education programs to fund: “It’s not whether an idea is liberal or conservative,” Obama stated, “but whether it works.”  [17] HHS’s third-grade follow-up evaluation makes it unequivocally clear that Head Start fails that test.

Let’s see what the Liberal Progressives will do – are they willing to pull the plug?  Are they willing to actually make what I believe to be an easy decision but a real hard political decision, that will upset a lot of folks – and admitting that yet another Blue Social Model program was never worth $180 Billion?

Or, from the results, perhaps even a cheapo (for Government that is), $1 Billion?

Well, the former is true – we want a limited government that yields a good value: a limited government that carries a small number of tasks extremely well.

TEA Partiers would have no problem in paying their taxes if they were lower over all but they knew that it was being spent and spent on services and products that had undeniably good results.  This is one reason, I believe, that more and more Parents are choosing to home school or send kids to charter schools – the Government schools are not providing the expected value.

Are the Progressives willing to admit that one of their Prize Jewels of Progressivism, is a complete bust – not much more than a glorified baby-sitting service?  That for once, the private marketplace can provide a better value and outcome?  Can they swallow their pride and pull the plug?

Or will Obama do the normal thing for him, double down, double the investment spending – and come up with the same poor result?

[Mike] And this report is only the latest in a long line on the failures of Head Start. Over at Reason Foundation, Lisa Snell has been researching government failures in education for a long time click for her 2010 report on Head Start.

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