Educate the Uneducated

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FOX Business Commentor John Stossel calls Head Start a “scam” without fully understanding all the benefits.

I rarely watch and read anything related to Fox News. Let’s just say that they tend to be a little “biased” and we’ll leave it at that. I was searching the Web for Head Start-related articles today and one popped out and bit me on the nose. “The Head Start Scam,” as FOX’s Stossel titled his blog entry, goes on to say that the $166 billion that has been spent on the Head Start program over the last 45 years has made “no difference.” He bases this assumption on a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that compared a group of first grader who graduated from the Head Start program and a group who were not part the program:

The study showed that at the end of one program year, access to Head Start positively influenced children’s school readiness. When measured again at the end of kindergarten and first grade, however, the Head Start children and the control group children were at the same level on many of the measures studied. (DHHS News Release Jan. 13, 2010)

Stossel’s claims are based on assumptions, and we all know what happens when you assume…What this study can not show is how those same children who were part of Head Start would have measured if they did not go through the program. There are immeasurable benefits to Head Start that a study will never be able to show.

What about the single mother who relies on Head Start to not only educate, but feed and keep her children safe when she is hard at work to provide a stable home life for them? I imagine Stossel, who you might also remember as a co-host of ABC’s 20/20, could never understand the difficulties that many parents of Head Start children face. For him to call Head Start a “scam” without reaching out and talking to the people it benefits is poor journalism.

Luckily, after reading a good handful of negative comments from people who have no experience with the program, I came across this:

Head Start children are born with economic and social/emotional deficits compared to their more affluent counterparts. Head Start has done more to empower parents, narrow achievement gaps at school entry, and empower communities, than any other federal program. It deserves to be fully funded to produce the results that all children deserve. There are always limitations and delimitations to every study. The timeframe ignores more recent improvement efforts.

I will be adding my own comment soon to the growing list, and I implore you to do the same.