Friday, June 13, 2003

Cheap Start
Congress appears ready to reform Head Start, which is long overdue. However, much like NCLB, they seem intent on mandating improvements without providing the resources. The current plan would require all Head Start teachers to have a bachelor's degree by 2008, a big improvement over the current requirement of a high school diploma. However, given that there is already a shortage of teachers in some areas it is folly to assume that newly minted college grads are going to jump at the lowly wages paid by most Head Start programs.
But I do think this is a step in the right direction. We need to address the learning gap between poor children and their peers, and a focus on academics in Head Start programs will go a long way in giving poor children a hand up. Too many poor children grow up in homes lacking in resources for enrichment, like books, and often times parents who are less educated than their non-poor peers. There is an abundance of research pointing to the benefits of early education and the only roadblock to making Head Start a high quality academic enrichment program is the lack of funds from the Feds and the opposition of entrenched Head Start lobbyists.

(NYT story)


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