An Eye Opener

From the Washington Post letters to the editor Sunday, one of our employees responds to a claim that not enough money is being spent.  He says that plenty more federal money is being spent.  So true, but…..

Is it working?

Our Growing Support for Head Start

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Regarding the Feb. 20 editorial "Failed Follow-Up," which said that federal support for Head Start declined in the fiscal 2008 reauthorization of the program:

President Bush‘s fiscal 2009 budget proposal increases funding for Head Start by $149 million. Additionally, from 2001 through 2008, the Head Start budget has increased by nearly $700 million while enrollment has remained constant.

But Head Start’s success also depends on how it uses its funding.

Head Start’s early language and literacy materials are increasing aptitude among Head Start children. A new math initiative holds promise for improving children’s math skills while engaging their parents in learning how to manage finances and save money. We are also combating childhood obesity by increasing physical activity and enhancing family nutrition. Moreover, President Bush recently extended his "Picturing America" initiative to promote the understanding of American history, culture and art in all 20,000 Head Start centers nationwide.

In the last 17 years, federal support has increased from $2,869 to $7,326 per child — a 155 percent increase. If President Bush’s fiscal 2009 proposal is accepted by Congress, Head Start will be funded at its highest level yet.

What could a person do with $7,326 for a little one?  The foisted count is clever.  It is per child/head, but what could a little one have with this much money? 

They could have a certified teacher(s) in their classroom where they become "school ready" and lined up to be counted. 

Or these  little ones could have the use of a fraction of that and stay out of the institution for a bit longer. Stay home with their parent(s) or caretakers and some wonderful books that are already provided by the libraries. 

Where does all that money go?  Is it effective?  The Head Start program is 43 years old.

From the Washington Post May 2007:

New Figures Show High Dropout Rate
Federal Officials Say Problem Is Worst For Urban Schools, Minority Males

First lady Laura Bush and national education leaders yesterday unveiled an online database that promises to provide parents across much of the nation the first accurate appraisal of how many students graduate from high school on time in each school system.

The statistics paint a dire portrait: Seventy percent of students nationwide earned diplomas in four years as of 2003, the latest data available nationally, a much lower rate than that reported by the vast majority of school systems. According to the database, Washington area graduation rates ranged from 94 percent in Loudoun and Falls Church to a low of 59 percent in the District, with most other systems falling in the 60s, 70s and low 80s.

Mr. Schneider, Acting Asst. Secretary for Children and Families (what an interesting title) finishes with this grand flourish.

That certainly seems like more than "lip service" to the millions of children who have benefited from Head Start programs.

DANIEL SCHNEIDER

Acting Assistant Secretary

for Children and Families

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Washington


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