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HEAD START: Why cut program that works?

Letter by Lori Jean Pitman, Tacoma on March 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm with 16 Comments »
March 7, 2011 2:35 pm

Re: “Mixed reviews at home for GOP budget cuts” (TNT, 2-26).

Head Start makes a fundamental, quantifiable difference in the lives of children. Benefit cost ratios of comprehensive early learning programs ranged from $3 to $17 for every $1 invested. If we are about smart government and balanced budgets, why are we not investing in what works?

Children at risk who attend Head Start do better than those who don’t. They are less likely to need remedial education, less likely to have behavior concerns, less likely to become juvenile delinquents, less likely to be on welfare or in prison.

They are more likely to be high school and/or college graduates and to be making positive contributions to themselves, their families and society.

Head Start includes education, nutrition, health care, and parent involvement and education all of which research has proven saves money and produces successful students, strong families and contributing citizens.

Again, I ask why would we cut an investment that produces such strong dividends? Why wouldn’t we be smart and invest in what works vs making cuts to a program that will cost us in the future?

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    I think Head Start is a wonderful program, but…

    “Benefit cost ratios of comprehensive early learning programs ranged from $3 to $17 for every $1 invested.”

    Do you realize that every person who argues for a social program before the legislature makes this argument? “This program doesn’t cost money, it saves money!” And even though the legislature has been enacting programs like Head Start that supposedly save money for decades, State government expenditures have mushroomed and we currently have about a $4B budget hole. How is it that programs like Head Start save us money but we have to spend more and more on them every year?

    Maybe that’s what happens when wishful thinking is substituted for sober economic analysis.

  2. Good point Rollo.

    It’s all these expenditures that are destroying our nation as a whole. Nobody wants to give up their government “benefits.” If parents paid more attention to their kids and taught them what they need to know from a very young age, head start would not be a good or needed thing for anybody.

    Instead it is just easier to park them in front of the TV and expect public money to teach the kids what they should know.

  3. But it’s OK to give 4 billion to oil companies? Last time I checked they were doing pretty well. Maybe we should start with cutting out corporate welfare first.

  4. Rollo_Tomassi says:


    I’m all for ending corporate well fare for oil companies, and corn growers, and dairy farmers, and bee keepers, etc etc etc.

    Of course you already knew that “the gubmint” is not one big monolith and all those corporate welfare programs I just mentioned are federal programs, not state programs.

    You probably also knew that Head Start is funded by the state, and so we are talking about state tax dollars.

  5. Head Start is the most successful govt program ever. Those who want to cut funds to Head Start are the same peoplel who hate educated Americans in general. Yes, my friends, the republican party hates Head Start because it is a program for low income people. Don’t forget, Reagan made children, the elderly, the sick, the infirm, women, people of color and the mentality ill enemies of the state. We have the United States of America for White Men and they are desperate to hang on to all control. Who suffers under republican sociopathic ideology everyone except the white male.

  6. I work with Head Start- did you know that many of the kids in Head Start are children of original Head Start students- is there something wrong with this picture? Students who go through Head Start are suppose to be given a head start for independence. Most of the Head Start parents are on DSHS and having many children. Why? Middle Class parents could never afford this kind of quality preschool. Where is the research and tracking of students of Head Start- yes it is a wonderful program, but does it give the results the tax payers, who could never take advantage of this kind of program for their own kids, pay for? Studies show that kids who attend Head Start vs kids of the same socio economic background who did not attend Head Start do just as well by 1st grade. Google it- Head Start Efficacy Studies. There is no tracking students through high school.

  7. sue- middle class young parents are not having 4 to 5 kids because they can’t afford it. They are paying for their own daycare, preschool etc. They are responsible enough to use birthcontrol. They are being taxed through the roof for programs for people who continue to have children they cannot afford, but who know others will pay for. This has got to stop. How long can the middle class pay for this?

  8. rosie — Several years ago the “head start” that kids got from Head Start was gone by 4th grade. Now it’s gone by the end of 1st grade. At this rate, in a few more years Head Start kids will start kindergarten even up with children who had no pre-school whatsoever. And yet the program will continue because nobody with any clout will admit that no amount of money pumped into the education system can overcome bad parenting.

    Don’t waste your time trying to have a discussion with sue. She won’t comment directly on anything you write, she just comments as an excuse to segue into a monologue on her general hate for Republicans. Most of us ignore her.

  9. Ronnie if you are ignoring me… dont talk about me. Good, decent Americans do not like the gop for a good reason; the gop is nothing but a cult of rich white men who exploit people like you Ronnie. If you make less than $250,000 a year and you vote republican you are voting AGAINST your own economic interests. Ronnie I seriously doubt you make $250,000 a year. One more thing, Ronnie, all you do is post myth, lies, and delusions. You are not intellectually honest so debate is impossible with you. In order to have a good debate, both sides must present facts in an intellectually logical and honest manner. The day any repubican does that will be a good day.

  10. Rosie, Your clear disrespect and distain for the children you are teach and their families is disgusting. Perhaps you should find anothher job and allow a person with sincere respect teach our most vulnerable children.

  11. Rollo_Tomassi says:

    Wow Sue. You dropped write into “if you disagree with me you are a bad person” mode.

    Here’s an idea, try to refute their ideas without turning to insults first. Can you tell us what is factually wrong with what rosie wrote?

  12. Hey Rollo – part of the Head Start funding comes from the Feds, nice try genius.

  13. Rollo — Does it seem to you this thread has become schizophrenic?

  14. Easy. Her obvious disrespect for her students prevents her from being an effective teacher. It is clear that she projects her disrespect into her comments about Head Start.

  15. One more bit a facutal information…. when search for Head Start failure all i get are whackout rightwing sites like The Heritage Foundation…. a real think tank full of racist rich whitemen. Like I have stated in other posts, all you gopcult members have are LIES LIES LIES….. try reading some information outside the cult.

  16. sue — Try searching for Head Start efficacy instead.

    I did a lot of reading on the subject a few years ago when we were trying to decide whether to send our son to preschool or just teach him ourselves and make sure he had lots of kids to play with. I was in favor of sending the lad to school because everything I’ve heard for the last 20 years has been educate, educate, educate, and the earlier the better, but my husband wanted to let him play at home without a schedule for as long as possible. I thought it would be quite simple to show him what a bad idea that was so I did some research and frankly, I was dumbfounded with what I read. It turns out that over the long run it doesn’t matter how early you start them. The child will hit certain milestones when he is ready, regardless of preparation. My kid is one of the few kids in his kindergarten class who did not go to pre-K, yet he is in the top reading group and works simple multiplication problems while his classmates learn to add.

    Sometimes, more is not more.

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