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HEAD START: Sequestration cuts will affect everyone

Letter by Sonja H. Lennox, Tacoma on Sep. 13, 2012 at 4:39 pm with 36 Comments »
September 13, 2012 4:39 pm

I have had two children attend Head Start. Head Start is a high quality early education program that not only focuses on children’s school readiness but helps the whole family get back on their feet so they can become contributing members of their community.

This program helped me return to school to complete my bachelor’s degree and has given my children a safe, nurturing environment where they learned life skills to be prepared for kindergarten and beyond.

In January 2013, if Congress doesn’t agree to a deficit-reduction plan, $1.2 trillion in cuts will be achieved through sequestration – automatic, across-the-board budget reductions that will come from defense and non-defense spending.

The looming 7.8 percent cut to non-defense discretionary programs will have a serious, immediate, and disruptive impact on the vulnerable children and families we serve. In Washington 1,356 children would be dropped from the Head Start program; 153 children would come directly from our area.

These damaging cuts would affect not only low-income children but all children. Studies have shown that at-risk children without high-quality preschool were 70 percent more likely to commit violent crimes, have lower graduation rates and higher drug use.

Head Start programs help reduce the amount of special education children need later in school. It doesn’t make sense to cut a program that returns $7 for every $1 invested in it. We need to teach children while they are young and in their formative years. Don’t let sequestration take away our children’s right to an education.

Leave a comment Comments → 36
  1. averageJose says:

    Head start is an expensive, tax payer funded, babysitter.

  2. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Why wait, start the cuts today. Cut Baby cut!!!

    Once we start getting people off the dole jobs will increase because UE won’t be there to compete with the available jobs.

  3. Agreed, early education is important! However, every program that is slated to be cut has its importance opinionated by its constituents. Big picture is to decrease the deficit, not to pick and choose which program to save.

  4. itwasntmethistime says:

    If we’re footing the bill for a woman to stay home and raise her children on welfare, why can’t she get her own kids ready for kindergarden? What is so pressing during her non-work day that she can’t gather her children around her and play games that teach letters, numbers, colors, and how to be nice to others?

  5. Why don’t YOU prepare your child for school and provide a nurturing environment. Studies show the most import factor in a child’s outcome, regardless of income or background, is the effort of the parents.

  6. I agree PARENTS need to teach their children in their formative years. A parent actually having to parent, that’s quite a concept.

    My three kids did just fine without Head Start. That’s because i was involved with them right from the start, i didn’t drop them off on some taxpayer funded babysitter.

    Everbody just needs to suck it up. The cuts are a comin’ like it or not. The gravy train is over, make do with less.

    I’ve already received my pink slip from my Military Industril Complex employer.

  7. Sorry to hear that bvask5; if the prop for transit is passed, they will be hiring!!!!

  8. itwasntmethistime says:

    CT8 — We did. My kids didn’t need preschool, public or private. Didn’t cost the taxpayers a penny.

  9. Itwasnt- Sorry if their was confusion, my post was in response to the letter, not a comment.

  10. cclngthr says:

    As I see it; particularly with SPED qualifiers, kids who are in Head Start (which I was, due to a experiment which a disabled child enrolled in a regular program would help that disabled child more early on) will do better later on with a consistant program aligned with the schools program than with a parent made program. This is due to the ongoing advancements made into the K-12 system where learning more advanced concepts are done earlier.

  11. yabetchya says:

    The Head Start Program, is a joke.

  12. Taxed – where are these mythical jobs that will suddenly appear?

  13. tommy98466 says:

    There is no evidence that children that are in head start do any better then those that are not. Expensive for the taxpayer. This is a great place to start cutting.

  14. itwasntmethistime says:

    CT8 — That makes more sense now.

    tommy — There is evidence that the edge kids who went to pre-school have over those who didn’t go starts to wane by 1st grade and is gone by 4th grade. And there is no evidence that a ludicrously expensive program such as Head Start is any better than a typical church or neighborhood program that costs just $140 per month per kid.

  15. Isn’t this the problem? Ineffective legislators, spreading tax money around like fertilizer to grow a few more votes, have spent us into debt so far even the optimists don’t see a solution.

    Why, when he had the chance to implement the recommdations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. These recommendations included eliminating the home mortgage tax deduction, large cuts to defense procurement, and changes to social security payment schedules.

    All have been ignored by our president, Democrats and Republicans in congress.

    The result is an almost 30% growth in federal debt during the first three years of the Obama administration.

    Why? Because special interests, such as this LTE writer, feel they are entitled to special funding from the taxpayers for their own “special” programs, without the pain of having to sacrifice tax dodges like the home mortgage interest write-offs, or forgo “give-me” programs like the earned income credit.

    Of course, Head Start is nice, heck, it even sounds progressive. But recent research shows it’s not a very effective program, with Head Start children losing any advantage over other, more privileged, children by grades one or two.

    Maybe, if we can stop this insanity of government give, give, give without any take, we can once again afford the luxury of “feel good” programs like Head Start.


  16. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Great comment Terry. Hope to see more of your thoughts.

  17. “Big picture is to decrease the deficit, not to pick and choose which program to save.”

    Then let’s cut the defense department budget by 50%.

  18. My parents started reading to me before I realized what they were doing. As soon as I knew that what they were saying was printed in this weird thing, called a ‘book’, I was hooked.
    That was the best thing my parents ever did for me.
    By igniting my mind and imagination, they taught a child how to learn, without taxpayer $$.

  19. Thank you Sonja for your well written letter. You and your children are the reason Head Start is an effective program. AverageJose, where is your evidence that Head Start is an expensive babysitter? Dardena and Tommy98466, please cite the specific research studies that you mention in your comments. Most of you are making generalizations about recipients of Head Start and other government programs based on your ideology. How can you presume to know the specific circumstances of individuals and families that need to rely on government assistance? Your stinginess and shortsightedness is showing.

  20. commoncents says:

    Head Start can work – but only if you actually eliminate all of the social engineering curriculum and institute a single curriculum that is focused solely on getting the kids to be able to count, do simple math using manipulatives, read the alphabet both capital and small letters, know their shapes, colors etc. Right now there is no educational oversight and the focus of many head start programs is more on socieconomic challenges making them job programs instead of educational ones.

  21. Sure Iindee. Are you aware that DSHS did a study on the effect of Head Start? (“Head Start Impact Study,” The final report was in 2010)

    An excerp from this conclusions of this study:

    “In sum, this report finds that providing access to Head Start has benefits for both 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health, and parenting domains, and for 3-year-olds in the social-emotional domain. However, the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by 1st grade for the program population as a whole. For 3-year-olds, there are few sustained benefits, although access to the program may lead to improved parent-child relationships through 1st grade… ”

    Now, that is from the group that sponsors the program… just imagine what it would sound like *without* the government spin.


  22. averageJose says:

    Well, lindee, we all know it’s expensive… and in the first two paragraphs letter writer basically admits it served as a babysitter.

    Thanks for asking :D

  23. itwasntmethistime says:

    commoncents — That single curriculum you detailed doesn’t take a professional educator to teach. Any parent can teach their kids letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. Money shouldn’t have anything to do with it since all you need is a box of crayons and some scrap paper.

  24. Given what’s going on in the middle east this week, are you seriously going to put Head Start in the same category as our national defense ehill. Why am I not surprised.

    I’m sure there are those who’ve made very good use of Head Start. Sounds like this is the case for you Sonja, but the reality is that we must stop spending money we don’t have, and this is one program that may have to go. It won’t be the last.

    Preschool can be very helpful for kids, but it is not essential.

  25. old_benjamin says:

    The cost of Head Start is just one more reason your kids and their kids are facing an astronomical national debt. There ain’t no free lunch.

  26. BORG: Thanks for the heads up! lol

  27. commoncents says:

    itwasntme – of course any parent can do it but the point is that they aren’t. And those kids are entering our schools unprepared and slowing down the rest of the kids. Certainly by 3rd or 4th grade their peers have caught up to them but how far down do those unprepared kids pull the rest of the kids(especially in this era of testing be the end all tool for measuring student progress and teachers results). Used to be a teacher could just fail a kid and move on…now a teacher is actually measured by that kids performance. Of course his/her time and effort is going to be spent on that. Your point regarding need for professionals to do this…I would agree wholeheartedly. Don’t need a teacher to act in this role.

  28. Ah, commoncents, we used to call those kids “special,” and put them in special education classes. Sure worked well for… oh, say, a hundred years.

    Why do you need something different?


  29. cclngthr says:

    Special education since 1975 has a requirement that they be integrated with mainstream society; largely due to civil rights and court rulings which require it, and the fact that disabled people, once they reach adulthood, are expected to be independent and have jobs as everyone else is expected to. Before 1975, SPED was inconsistant, and the notion of society was to “hide” that disabled person from society and prevent them from being productive citizens. In the 40’s and 50’s, disabled kids were flatly refused an education because it was assumed they could not function at all in society.

    Additionally, what commoncents is referring to is kids who don’t qualify for SPED services; not those who do.

    Look at the issue this way: The curricula used in schools is advanced to the point where what was learned in 1st grade back then, even 20 years ago is now taught in Kindergarten. Kindergarten used to be focused on socializing behaviors, manners and simple recognition of letters. Now, full reading instruction is taught and kids entering Kindergarten are supposed to know letters and letter combination sounds, and counting up to a certain number; something that once was done by the school system.

    Should kids be entering school earlier? That question may be yes.

  30. commoncents says:

    cc – that may be the INTENT of the kindergarten curriculum and the expectation of the kids coming in but reality is much different. One might wonder how far the kids collectively could progress if every kid actually did enter with those skills. The folks commenting on here seem to think that all of the kids have the skills when in reality only about 1/3 do. So much of the year is spent just getting the other 67% of kids to that level. Wash, Rinse, Repeat year after year…

  31. cclngthr says:

    Those same commenters would want those 67% of students not to be integrated into mainstream society either. Those people are likely to have advanced degrees who expect their children to also obtain the same kind of advanced education; and expect all students to be at the exact same level regardless of the other parents ability to afford and support that kind of education. These same people also try to prohibit “outsiders” from entering their lifestyle by dictating who can and cannot achieve that lofty status. They don’t see how others live because they can’t accept people living in a lower class than themselves.

    I know what the curricula expects, because I have taught it. I also see the curricula changing (as it has in the past) to require more advanced concepts be taught at an earlier age.

    As we advance as an industrilized nation, we also have to understand with that advancement, comes with higher requirements from its people and what is expected from those same people.

  32. Dardena-Head Start is a federal, not a state program. As far as the research done by DSHS, consider the source (an inefficient bureaucracy). Research methods, level of evidence, etc. of the research also needs to be taken into consideration.

    Preschool not essential, sozo? Most kindergarten teachers would disagree with you.

  33. pumpkinbread says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the letter writer. Investing in our children, not just mine but all the nation’s children, is essential for our country’s survival. Those who say it is high cost babysitting are not paying attention to how India and China are investing in their children, in the future of their countries. I fear that soon we won’t need to worry about American jobs being outsourced to other countries. We will need to import well educated workers to fill the high tech jobs our workers won’t be able to do.

  34. BlaineCGarver says:

    If you are too lazy, and uncaring to nurture your pre-school child, don’t expect me to pay to do it for you. I loath the fact that I helped pay for your degree. Get off your butt and take care of your own family, the rest of us have problems of our own.

  35. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Someone’s Google must be broken. Either that, or it’s just easier to try to pooh-pooh the idea that an actual study was conducted on Head Start. Seriously…it took me all of 5 seconds to find.

    Here ya go:



    “These impacts on children’s experiences translated into favorable impacts at the end of one year in the domains of children’s cognitive development and health, as well as in parenting practices. There were more significant findings across the measures within these domains for 3-year-olds in that first year (and only the 3-year-old cohort experienced improvements in the social-emotional domain.) Yet, by the end of 1st grade, there were few significant differences
    between the Head Start group as a whole and the control group as a whole for either cohort.”

  36. whowhatwhy says:

    Huh. I also have children (6) and also have a bachelor’s degree. AND a Master’s degree. However, I decided to raise my OWN children and taught them at home, they were more than ready for kindergarten without costing anyone anything. I went to school in the evenings and weekends. You are not owed anything. Head Start is exactly the type of program that needs to be cut in tough times….pay for yourself and children or don’t have them! Stop the victim/poor me/entitlement mentality before you run our country into the ground.

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