Don’t bail-out Head Start, advises Checker Finn on Flypaper.
The National Head Start Association wants to get $4.3 billion for Head Start in the economic stimulus package.
Forty years of evaluations have demonstrated that Head Start does next to nothing to prepare its young charges — needy three- and four-year-olds — to succeed in kindergarten and beyond, and that whatever gains it yields quickly dissipate once the kids enroll in school.
The major reason it’s ineffective as a pre-school program is because it has no curriculum and little cognitive content, because most of its staffers are “child care workers,” not teachers, and because the National Head Start Association itself has defied every effort by policymakers to transform it into the pre-literacy program that it ought to be and that these kids truly need.
If funding were tied to a cognitive curriculum, would Head Start leaders buy into it?