Skip to comments.Broken Promises: what Head Start should have been but wasn’t
Posted on 07/11/2013 1:27:51 PM PDT by BruceDeitrickPrice
Summary: Head Start was launched more than 45 years ago. Much was promised, little delivered. This failure tells us a lot about our Education Establishment.
This is the story of an intentionally wasted opportunity.
People thought Head Start meant jump start. Surely the idea was to take children from disadvantaged backgrounds and fill their heads with all the information that middle and upper-class kids learn around the house. These poor and minority kids would then be up to speed. Quickly. Thats the jump start everybody imagined was being proposed here.
But that is not what the program did. Head Start was entirely busy work. It was not intellectually or cognitively ambitious.
FoxNews.com recently reported: Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in 1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program. But HHS latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers arent getting a good return on this investment. According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects.
A parent left this comment on an internet forum: I remember when I sent my son to Head Start some 18 years back. I got so frustrated because they taught nothing useful. They treated the children as though they were RETARDED. When I asked them about what the upcoming curriculum was, this is what I was told: They were going to be studying shapes and would be spending a week doing so--PER SHAPE. A week studying the circle, a week on the square and so on.
Cynics would say that Head Starts actual goals were: provide cheap daycare; create jobs for out-of-work teachers and administrators; undermine the traditional family; and channel funds to bureaucrats and professors throughout the Education Establishment.
In sum, Head Start was uninspired, unproductive, and more than a little dishonest. Strictly speaking, Head Start was a failure because it aimed low.
But why? Because thats what our Education Establishment is comfortable with. It puts weak demands on children, and then celebrates mediocrity as success.
Imagine for a moment that Head Start had done what people hoped, that is, engage in every kind of acceleration and enrichment. What might be the consequences?
Safe to say, there would have been a ripple effect, a domino effect, all the way up through the system. Kids coming into first, second, and third grades would be superior. Elementary and middle schools would have to jump to another gear in order to deal with these more cognitively developed kids.
Arguably, this is the last thing our Education Establishment wanted. Their pattern, ever since the time of John Dewey, was to aim for a comfortably average kid. So they dumbed down Head Start precisely as they dumbed down all of public school education for the last 75 years. Head Start illuminates that pattern.
In sum, Head Start was a cute new name but otherwise the same old, same old. If anyone seriously wanted a qualitative leap, they would have to bring in new people at the top, and try new ideas.
Lets imagine what Head Start would look like had it done all the things people were hoping for. There are several prototypes to give us the basic plan.
First of all, everything Maria Montessori did with her disadvantaged kids in Italy more than 100 years ago is valid today. She believed in a multi-sensory approach, with lots of play and games. Meanwhile, classical academies are springing up. They use methods and theories first developed in Greek and Roman civilizations and then, in some schools, modified by medieval Christian influences.
In both cases, you see an animated educational environment. Kids are kept in motion. Theres a lot of singing, chanting, and memorization. The crucial ingredient in both types of schools, and any good school, is that everybody knows why theyre there: kids are to be educated as much as possible, as quickly as possible. You do this by having them swim in a sea of knowledge.
For the sake of comparison, here is the blueprint for a genuine Head Start and subsequent grades. Lets suppose a six-hour day, 9-3. The ideal time on any one subject is about 30 minutes. (For a child thats a long time, like an hour or two for a middle-aged person.) So we might have 12 half-hour periods that might be filled like this (of course, in any order):
1) Geography; Maps; Diagrams
2) General Science; Animals; Machines
3) Reading; Stories
7) Music; Singing
9) Recess; Sports
10) Miscellaneous; Games; Field Trips (which could be a walk to a favorite tree)
11) Current Events; Show & Tell
12) Art; Drawing; Building Models
Doesnt that sound like a good day? Wouldnt you want to go to a school like that? Wouldnt you want your kids to go to a school like that?
There is no need for lesson plans intended to fill every minute. On the contrary, teachers would focus on a few main bits of information in each period (e.g., George Washington was the first president of the United States). Such facts could be mixed in with anything else the teacher thinks helpful--a holiday, something in the news, the weather, a video, a question asked by a student. Whatever was taught one day would be taught again, weeks or months later, in different contexts.
The goal is to keep things light, lively, and memorable. Everyone has fun. Learning is inevitable.
Did they even give the poor kids a decent breakfast like they promised?
Obviously, Head Start isn’t working because the government isn’t spending enough money on it.
Since the outset, I have objected to the name “Head Start” on the basis that no one should have a head start. If they had named it “Catch Up” or something, I could have at least read about the program without becoming incensed. These programs never die, no matter how worthless or expensive.
Now its a government financed babysitting service. They've proved 1000 times over that there is no advantage from attending Head start.
Oh, but I beg to differ!
Headstart, like all other liberal programs, accomplished EXCACTLY what it was intended to do, the moment it passed -
it provided leftist sheeperal with reasons to pat themselves on the back as “good people”.
After that goal was accomplished, they couldn’t care less as to the actual results of the programs.
If so, people need to be taken out and shot by Che.
“Head Start” failed because it was run by leftist, liberal, dirtbags.
They likely get a MooseShell baefas’ now. No cal.
...and it still is.
First of all, the materials are WONDERFUL...building blocks, puzzles, reading/writing materials, role-playing experiences, movement/art/music/phys.ed specialists, specialists for those lagging in speech or other cognitive issues, private playgrounds outside the classroom, free breakfast and lunch, learning games, experiences with determining calendar date, time-telling, vocabulary development.... You get the picture. It couldn't be better; whomever planned those rooms did not cut corners. I left the room shaking my head one day, remarking that I think I had three toys, a few books and a tricycle at that age. Those classrooms are if anything over-stimulating (though there are of course quiet corners where kids can look at books and rest and cuddle their favorite stuffed animal)
So what's the problem? The schools have taken those responsibilities away from the parents. If parents aren't held responsible for the development of their children, the kids will lag behind.
I'd abolish the whole thing.
Please don't try to tell me it's covered by the "general welfare" clause. In the first place, that was never the founding fathers' intent; in the second, it's never been the intent of us, the people, and ultimately, everything the feral government has done in the name of "general welfare" has harmed rather than been of any measurable benefit to us.
Che was a coward !
He only tortured prisoners who were already previously tortured , chained , restrained, or were compliant .
Che is dead !
So is the Cuban revolution ... dead !
So is Head Start dead !, ..except as daycare !!
In Education—the blame must always fall on the teachers!
I just read in the Aiken (SC) Standard this morning that the Gloverville SC Head Start program was closing due to lack of funding. They said the parents could enroll their children in the Aiken Head Start program. However, transportation funding was also cut back so they would probably have to provide their child’s transportation. That will prove unlikely.
Gloverville is an economically depressed area, as much of the area between North Augusta and Aiken seems to be. It is made up of former mill towns and the mills have closed.
Like all Liberal "programs"
Kindergarten is not where the problem is, as I understand it. What they need is “Tail Finish.” Black and white kindergarteners are on the same level. Black and white high schoolers are not.
I’m very intrigued by what you say. There is so much irony on this site. I want to be clear—you are saying that there was at least one Head Start program that worked well? It was cognitively exciting at least?
Interesting materials, games and furniture are a big part of the battle. It couldn’t be better, you say. But then why abolish the whole thing? Why not put a teacher in there who can use those materials to teach fundamental knowledge? (To my mind, whether it’s parents or teachers is not the main point, as long as somebody is doing it.)
I bet kids in head start learn that heather has two mommies.
My point is that with all of the materials and trained teachers and unbelieveable resources, the kids will still lag behind if the parents aren’t held repsonsible. To assume otherwise is acknowledging that the government can do a better job raising children than loving, caring children can.
Okay, I see your argument.
But I’m at the point in education where I say take any gains you can get, large or small, however you can get them. Some parents are not going to do the job. So let others do it. If the parents do the job, okay great.
I’m very cynical about our Education Establishment. If a job isn’t being done or is being done badly, they’ll sit back and let it stay that way. This being the history of Head Start related in the article.
I've been a teacher for 46 years. It's never been perfect. There have always been bad parents, bad teachers, bad administrators, bad kids. It's very rare to find an environment where people are satisfied with the results.
I don't disagree with you. But sometimes a gain is not a gain. My head is spinning from this Head Start experience. It made me wonder if giving the kids so much is backfiring. They're only four years old. Do they end up expecting such resources? I don't know the answer.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.