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January 15, 2013
No Impact from Head Start
Since its creation in 1965, Head Start, the federal program designed to provide comprehensive child development services to low-income preschoolers, has cost American taxpayers almost $200 billion. Now, in a December 21 Friday night document dump, the Department of Health and Human Services made public the results of an Impact Study completed in 2008.
The verdict: a program set up to give disadvantaged kids a boost before they hit kindergarten has not only squandered billions, but any gains made by three and four year olds virtually disappeared by the time the little ones entered school. According to Fox News:
Not only were the third-grade evaluation results poor, so was the department's handling of the study. HHS sat on the results for four years. All that time, taxpayers were kept in the dark while their tax dollars continued to fund a completely ineffective program.
HHS had finished collecting all the data in 2008. Despite persistent prodding by members of Congress, the Department did not make the report (coyly dated October 2012) public until the Friday before Christmas. The timing couldn't have been better if your goal is to get minimal attention.
Surely HHS was not eager to release yet another report showing that the feel-good Head Start program doesn't work. But numbers don't lie.
The third-grade follow-up study found that access to Head Start had no statistically measurable effects on cognitive ability, including numerous measures of reading, language and math ability.
The evaluation also examined the program's effect on social-emotional development. It found that children in the 4-year-old group actually reported worse peer relations in third grade than their non-Head Start counterparts.
In his 2008 third presidential debate Obama told the moderator he would get rid of "giveaways" like insurance company subsidies that "don't help seniors get better... I want to go through the federal budget line by line, programs that don't work, we cut."
If the newly elected President meant what he said why did HHS led by Kathleeen Sebelius not only hide a report for four years but pour $2.1 billion dollars of stimulus monies into Head Start and Early Head Start in 2009 -- a year after the data had been compiled?
Just recently another $100 million to Head Start was included in the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. The learning program's failure to achieve its goal of preparing low-income children for elementary school and closing the achievement gap for poor students has not deterred our government from funding this travesty.
In the early 1970's at the time Marian Wright Edelman, an enthusiastic supporter of Head Start, set up the Children's Defense Fund, she openly admitted progressives like herself had gotten all the mileage they could out of "racial justice" issues, so it was time to target the children.
From David Horowitz's Discover the Networks:
When you talked about poor people or black people you faced a shrinking audience... I got the idea that children might be a very effective way to broaden the base for change.
Almost 50 years later, Edelman, Obama and their progressive ilk have created an endless network of entitlements to keep themselves in business while they have enslaved taxpayers and held us hostage to a socialist welfare state.
Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report
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