Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It Takes a Village to Admit Failure

Head Start, the federal government’s largest preschool program for low-income children, was found to yield no lasting results, according to a report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the beginning of this year.

Dah! Children are best raised by parents, not the Nanny State.

-- From "Do Head Start Benefits Fade by First Grade?" by Paul Nyhan, posted at Seattle Post Globe - Birth to Thrive 1/14/10

The federal government ignited a fresh debate over whether benefits of quality early education fade over time by releasing a report this week that found few measurable cognitive or social-emotional benefits among a group of Head Start students once they reached first grade.

In a four-year study that is the talk of the early learning world, researchers found by first grade Head Start students and those in a “control group…were at the same level on many of the measures studied.” The study, however, found Head Start helped prepare kids for school.

Overall, the report raises more questions than it answers.

This latest report will surely become fodder for sound bites that often pass for debate on Capitol Hill. But, its findings are a big step, but only a step, toward finding out what works and what doesn’t work in early learning.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "HHS Study Says $150 Billion Head Start Program for Low-Income Pre-Schoolers is Largely a Failurer" by Karen Schuberg, CNSNews 1/19/10

The 27-page report, titled “Head Start Impact Study Final Report,” states bleak findings.

“In sum, this report finds that providing access to Head Start has benefits for both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health, and parenting domains, and for 3-year-olds in the social-emotional domain. However, the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by first grade for the program population as a whole.”

Dan Lips, education policy analyst at Heritage Foundation, said it is “unclear” at this point why Head Start bequeaths no lasting effects for children.

He added: “The program spends about $7,000 per student. I think those funds could be put to much better use.”

Lips said the HHS study is long past-due -- though taxpayers have spent approximately $150 billion on the government-run program since the ‘60s, until now “very little” was known about whether Head Start was actually helping children.”

Lips said he is not aware of any studies which compare pre-school children participating in Head Start with children spending those same years with a stay-at-home parent.

Lips said there was an intentional delay on the part of HHS in reporting the grim findings of the effectiveness of Head Start.

“The first grade evaluation was completed in 2006,” Lips began. “It shouldn’t have taken four years to analyze the results.”

Lips continued, “I was told by former HHS officials that the report was done in the fall of 2008. But they held onto it for more than year.”

Last March, President Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “For every dollar we invest in these programs, we get nearly $10 back in reduced welfare rolls, fewer health care costs, and less crime.”

Obama added: “That's why the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [the $787 billion "stimulus" package] that I signed into law invests $5 billion in growing Early Head Start and Head Start, expanding access to quality child care for 150,000 more children from working families, and doing more for children with special needs. And that's why we are going to offer 55,000 first-time parents regular visits from trained nurses to help make sure their children are healthy and prepare them for school and for life,” Obama said.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.