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Is Head Start Actually Bad for Kids?

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On February 24, 2013 @ 11:45 am In The Point | 5 Comments

As Judicial Watch notes, while Obama is pushing preschool like the ice cream man outside a playground pushes chocolate covered cones, the statistics on its success are somewhat debatable.

Obama keeps pushing the federally-funded universal preschool program known as Head Start even though his own Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has determined that it’s ineffective. Remember how he cited “study after study” showing that the government’s investment in universal preschool pays for itself during the State of Union earlier this month?

It turns out that one of those studies, published last fall by his own HHS, reveals that Head Start isn’t working despite its whopping $8 billion a year price tag. In fact, children who participated in Head Start did worse in math and had problems with social interactions by third grade than those who didn’t go through the federal program.

The study concludes that most of the early benefits of Head Start disappear after 3rd Grade and one of its conclusions shows that

For children in the 4 year old cohort At the end of 3rd grade, teachers reported more problems in their relationship with Head Start children and a lower percentage of Head Start children in the normal category for emotional symptoms.

While the study shows that parents reported improved results, teachers appeared to note worse results. Reconciling this is a bit hard until you dig down and see that Head Start appears to produce the best results for children from troubled families and minority children, while producing negative results for some white children. It may be that Head Start’s limited positive results are showing up because it is being used as an alternative to poor parental care by inept parents and troubled families.

Head Start isn’t really working as an educational kickstarter, instead it looks a lot like a multi-billion dollar babysitting program.


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