Tag Archives: Head Start boondoggle

Playing to the NEA

A failure for all ages

A failure for all ages

Jut as with all government programs, Obummer vowed Tuesday to expand nursery school/Head Start classes despite their well documented, unbroken history of failure to accomplish anything but provide employment for adults.

HEADSTART: ANOTHER GOVERNMENT PROGRAM THAT DOESN’T WORK? “The evaluation, which was mandated by Congress during the 1998 reauthorization of the program, found little impact on student well-being. After collecting data on more than 5,000 three and four-year-old children randomly assigned to either a Head Start or a non Head Start control group, the Department of Health and Human Services found ‘few sustained benefits’.”

Posted by Glenn Reynolds

Going back years, but mentioned here back in 2009, and again last year, when an Obama administration’s study was released, anyone who’s analyzed the data has known that the Head Start program is merely a jobs program for inner city adults with no skills. Even the NYT conceded as much although, being liberal, insisted that the way to cure any government program involving social welfare was to spend more money while “holding people accountable”. Uh huh. If we in our wisdom want to spend $22,600 per year per Head Start pupil – that number was calculated by the government at a time when private nursery schools averaged $9,0000 – well, it’s China’s money, so why not? But pleeeease, stop calling it “an investment” – it’s just more welfare for grownups.

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Obama administration “proves” what we’ve known all along: Head Start is a useless waste of money that accomplishes nothing

Two years wasted? Tell your kid not to worry, there's always affirmative action!

I’ve posted here several times about Head Start’s failure to help pre-schoolers – one study I linked to found that after two years in the program children arrived in kindergarten knowing exactly two more letters of the alphabet than their non-schooled peers, and that’s it. No other gains or accomplishments.

But now Obummer’s crew has studied Head Start and reached the same conclusion. From Walter Russel Mead:

Joe Klein at Time magazine. As Klein reports,

We spend more than $7 billion providing Head  Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is  indisputable evidence about the program’s effectiveness, provided by the  Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not  work.

These days, defenders of Head Start say less about what it does for kids (essentially nothing) but about the jobs it creates in poor neighborhoods.  This is blue liberal thinking at its most self-parodic: we can’t develop social programs that will accomplish something worthwhile, but we can at least use the illusion that such programs work to create jobs for people who will then vote for the politicians who give them make work jobs.

This fifty years of money down the rat hole, fifty years of listen to Dollar Bill types responding to any criticism of this (or any similar) program by wringing their hands and denouncing  us as “cruel” and “heartless”. In fact, it’s the Dollar Bills who are heartless by consigning the defenseless to a lifetime of poverty, all in the name of the Great Society and from a desire to salve their liberal guilt by spending other people’s money on programs that don’t work. true kindness and compassion dictates that we abandon what isn’t working (job retraining, anyone? Welfare?) and try a different approach. But as anyone who’s studied them knows, liberals and communists are the cruelist, most selfish and heartless people on earth.

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Yet the money machine rolls on

Congressional study shows that Head Start is useless. This has been known for decades, but the program just keeps getting larger and more expensive, like all welfare “employment” scams. Head Start is about providing paychecks to otherwise-unemployable inner city friends and constituents of politicians and has nothing to do with improving education. Nothing.

The evaluation, which was mandated by Congress during the 1998 reauthorization of the program, found little impact on student well-being. After collecting data on more than 5,000 three and four-year-old children randomly assigned to either a Head Start or a non Head Start control group, the Department of Health and Human Services found “few sustained benefits”. From the report:

“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…”

While these results are uninspiring, they become even less impressive when more closely examined. Heritage’s David Muhlhausen calls into question the less-than-rigorous statistical methods employed by HHS.

In some cases, HHS reports statistically significant impacts based on a standard of statistical significance is p<0.10 which is not the norm for most social scientists. The 0.05 level is the norm. With a sample of 4,667 children, there is no reason to use the easier 0.10 level. The larger your sample size the easier it is to find statistically significant findings, so using 0.10 as the standard for statistical significance is unwarranted with such a large sample size… For example, if they used the standard level of significance for the 1st grade year language and literacy measures, then the study would report no statistically measurable impact on all eleven measures. Instead, the lower standard used by HHS allows for them to report that Head Start had at least one positive impact on raised language and literacy.

It will shock you to hear this but there are other government programs equally as inefficacious.

UPDATE: How has the main stream media treated this news that we’ve wasted $100 billion on Head Start? Exactly as you’d think – they’ve never heard of it.

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The two most expensive letters in the English language

These New York Times Op-Ed contributors aren’t impressed with Head Start nor the Democrats’plan to shower it with still more billions.

In 1998, Congress required the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct the first rigorous national evaluation of the program. The Clinton administration took this mandate seriously and initiated a 383-site randomized experiment involving about 4,600 children. Confirming previous research, the study found that the current program had little meaningful impact.

For example, even after spending six months in Head Start, 4-year-olds on average could identify only two more letters than children from similar backgrounds not in the program; 3-year-olds could identify one and a half more letters. More important, no gains at all were detected in more vital measures like early math learning, oral comprehension (very indicative of later reading comprehension), motivation to learn or “social competencies” like the ability to interact with peers and teachers.

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Lack of money is not the problem: to keep a child in Head Start full-time, year-round, costs about $22,600, as opposed to an average cost of $9,500 in a day care center. And that’s the big failing of the stimulus bill. In area after area, it does not require any real change in return for vast piles of money.

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