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Head Start Falls Behind

Head start is a noble cause: but is it working?

The Head Start program was intended to help underprivileged children’s grades stay up to par with the rest of their peers. It has grown to do much more than we bargained for and it is failing in its core initiative. This article focuses on the academic accolades insomuch as it stands today.

In 2008 the Department of Health and Human Services completed a study on 5000 random children from the Head Start Program (HSP) and children not enrolled in the program comparably. This study was released after years of pressure from Congress on Christmas Eve 2012 – an ideal time to go unnoticed.  

Addressing children transitioning from kindergarten to first grade the scientifically robust study stated; “With only a few exceptions, teacher and classroom characteristics did not differ significantly between children in the Head Start group and those in the control group.”

This study also noted that any significant benefits acquired from the HSP had all but faded by the completion of first grade. It had failed to improve the literacy, language, or math skills one iota.

Moreover, while some positive impacts were noted while attending Head Start they went on to suggest that by the end of third grade there were no cognitive benefits noticeably attributed to the program.

With Congress possessing this knowledge they esoterically concluded that more funding for the program is the answer. Imbedded midst the murky waters of the recently passed Sandy Relief Bill $100 million of pork barrel money was included for the HSP.

In 1965 Lyndon Johnson implemented his pet project (HSP) to help low income families readily prepare their children for the schooling years. Albeit his concept was a noble one, Americans have spent $180 billion since its introduction on a program that simply has not worked.

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