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Fixing Head Start
August 1, 2014

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
-Plato

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Over the five decades Head Start has served young children, there have been numerous attempts to close down, block grant, privatize, and reform the program.  Yasmina Vinci, the Executive Director of the National Head Start Association, responded to recent attempts to "fix" Head Start with an op ed, "Head Start: A Durable Design for Early Learning," in the Huffington Post.  In concluding this piece she remarked...

"Head Start's 50th Anniversary (Spring of 2015), combined with the states' new enthusiasm for state-run pre-Kindergarten, have touched off a flurry of suggestions for improving and reforming Head Start. Unfortunately, the eager would-be-tinkerers have overlooked an essential element of the process of improvement: the local consumers and deliverers of the Head Start model. Somehow, suggestions for reform are being made in the absence of their rich knowledge, experience, and insight into how Head Start works in diverse communities around the country. Oops.

"Worse yet, in many cases, their premise that Head Start needs fixing is based not on an examination of the reality of today's vulnerable children, families, and communities (and yes, there are many improvements that should be contemplated to address that reality) but on a single study of questionable merit that has become an excuse for bashing Head Start. Or for offering to fix it.

"Today, any company that would decide to redesign a successful product without consulting its consumers would be smart to remember what happened to Coke when it decided to change its formula and introduce 'New Coke.' Likewise, Washington's policy wonks would be smart to consider what might happen to their policies when the rubber hits the road. The unintended consequences would affect generations of our most vulnerable children and families."
 





   

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Displaying 1 Comment
Chris
United States
08/01/2014 07:52 am

Very well stated, Yasmina. Yes, state by state there are things to improve upon, but you have to look at the big picture. It is important, however, that those working in Head Start make sure they are working up to the established and well grounded principles of the program. If the principles are up held, that will remove the grounds for criticism.


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