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  • Senators Demand Release of Head Start Data

    Four years after data collection was completed, Americans are still awaiting the results of a study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the impact of the federal Head Start program. “The United States fought and won in the Pacific and Atlantic fronts of World War II in less time,” writes Carrie Lukas, managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum. Lukas goes on to say:

    Imagine the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] was conducting a clinical trial about a medication that nearly one million toddlers use every day. Families have been using the drug since the 1960s, but experts are unsure of its real effects. Congress finally mandated an evaluation in 1998.

    But four years after data collection for the clinical trials was completed, the FDA still won’t publish the results. Many suspect that their stonewalling has something to do with powerful pharmaceutical companies that will be embarrassed if the results are disappointing.

    American parents would be outraged—protesting outside of the FDA, demanding answers. Investigative journalists would be probing for results and looking for whistleblowers to give the public the facts.

    Unfortunately, we have heard no such outrage, or seen no such digging, to date, demanding answers from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the four-year delay in the final results of the Congressionally-mandated evaluation of the federal Head Start program, which impacts millions of American children.

    HHS only recently (January 2010) released the results of the National Head Start Impact Study, which followed three- and four-year-old Head Start children through first grade. The rigorous experimental-design evaluation compared Head Start children to Head Start–eligible children who did not participate in the program and found that Head Start failed to have a positive impact on cognitive abilities for both the three-year-old and four-year-old groups. Worse still, access to Head Start actually had a negative impact on the teacher-assessed math ability of the three-year-old cohort.

    These unimpressive findings are the results for the children after first grade. The congressionally mandated evaluation was extended in 2006 to determine the effects of Head Start after third grade in order to assess the long-term impact of the program. Data collection for the third-grade follow-up study was finished in 2008, and yet the results have remained sealed off somewhere inside HHS.

    Head Start, which was created in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson, is now a $7 billion annual program enrolling more than 900,000 low-income children across the country. Over its lifetime, taxpayers have dumped more than $168 billion into Head Start. This big-government preschool program has failed at its one stated mission: to increase kindergarten readiness. And in all likelihood, the results of the third-grade follow-up study will be even less inspiring than those of the first grade evaluation.

    Parents and taxpayers deserve to know whether Head Start works. Senators Tom Coburn (R–OK), Mike Enzi (R–WY), Lamar Alexander (R–TN), Richard Burr (R–NC), and John McCain (R–AZ), agree and have just sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting that the results from the study be released:

    We understand that data collection for the “Third Grade Follow-Up” study was completed in the spring of 2008. Four years seems to be a sufficient period of time for the Department and the researchers that conducted the data collection to analyze the results.… The American people—including the families of the estimated 904,000 children currently enrolled—deserve to understand how the program is affecting the children it serves.

    If the third-grade follow-up study shows the same dismal results for Head Start as the first-grade study found, serious consideration should be given to the future of this Great Society relic. Policymakers interested in improving outcomes for poor children should not relegate them to underperforming Head Start centers.

    Massive federal preschool programs are not the way to ensure children’s educational future. Investing in preschool programs should be a decision made by states and localities—and, even better, by parents. One way federal policy could move in that direction is to make Head Start funding portable to allow low-income children to attend any preschool provider of choice.

    Perhaps HHS is waiting to release the study with great fanfare and will be able to tout impressive results from Head Start. But we’re not holding our breath. Parents and taxpayers deserve answers, and the Senators’ inquiry is a first step toward obtaining long-overdue information about this massive taxpayer-funded preschool program.

    Posted in Education, Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    22 Responses to Senators Demand Release of Head Start Data

    1. Bobbie says:

      why is there any wait? my Lord! accountability!!!! since it's out of our hands, the pay goes to accountability most of all!!!! Why aren't the results at their fingertips and given to the Senators without demand? Americans demand integrity with those in positions out of our reach.

      4 years covers, hides and distorts the facts! Data tomorrow would be sufficient!!

      subliminally indoctrinating the minds of the children and parents! Moving in on 3 year olds should've been an alert to parents that love their children! the only direct beneficiary is government in control!!! not only that, head start is a deterrent to parent(s) who aren't self motivated or are swayed from fulfilling this part of parenting to their children so they aren't aware of what's best for their child.

      How about: the parents (people)whose children (people)benefit from unconstitutional government overreach can contribute what they will or can afford to cover all government servant expenses to show the sincerity of government good will. People learn the role to provide for their children and come to know what's best when their livelihoods are at their personal expense! And if the president wants to help so much he'll violate his oath of office to compete with the private sector, all his unconstitutional tools can be paid to honor no tax payers obligation but wages at the affordable cost of those "Americans" that "want" or "need" unconstitutional benefits. or some "Americans" can choose to be capitalist and have their own private head start and call it day care!!!!

      • Nativebrownbear says:

        You do not have the facts about Head Start and the children and familes served. You speak of things you do not understand nor have direct knowledge about… caution would be prudent!

    2. subconch says:

      Thanks for pointing out yet another "What we don't know won't hurt us(them)" from our friends in the federal government. Note the spike to $9.5 billion in 2009… just after completion of the 08 study… If results were positive, they would have already justified the spike.

    3. subconch says:

      Thanks for pointing out yet another "What we don't know won't hurt us(them)" from the federal gov't. Note the spike to $9.5 billion in 2009, just after the 08 study completion…

    4. Yasmina Vinci says:

      If Carrie Lukas, widely quoted here, had taken the time to carefully read the study she wrote about, she would have seen the first key finding, on page iv of the Executive Summary http://1.usa.gov/xYHOLb, that the Head Start children were better prepared for school than the control group by every measure that the study addressed. Head Start got the children ready for school.

      True, there was no statistically proven difference between the two groups at the end of first grade – for a simple reason. The control group was no longer a valid control group. Many parents in the control group hurried to send their children to Head Start in the time remaining before they began school. In fact, 40% of the original control group attended Head Start before they began kindergarten.

      Carrie Lukas drew an analogy to FDA trials. Does she think that the FDA would claim validity for a trial of a cancer drug in which 40% of the patients in the control group were allowed to take the drug being tested?! Unless the answer to that question is “yes”, then her attempt to discredit Head Start is equally invalid.

      • Laura Henning says:

        Ms. Vinci, if the Head Start kids have done so well as a result of their early preparation, why has the HHS stonedwalled on the report for four years? You would think it would have rushed it out to the public instead of sitting on it for so long. Or is the HHS so mired in red tape that they can't even publicize a supposed "success" ?

      • Bobbie says:

        what the heck are you talking about? head start is an insult to parents who provide for their children under PARENTS' control. When parents won't provide is when they're irresponsible and should gladly give their children up for adoption not Head start which shows no results of students achievements compared to children who haven't been under the influence of control government head start concentration camps. if you can't produce your own paperwork overnight, it's unacceptable and terribly corrupt. Pay for it YOURSELF!

    5. Karen says:

      Maybe parents should be responsible for the children that they have, and make them a bowl of cereal and fruit before they go out the front door in the morning. They could make a sandwich and fruit and put it in a paper bag and put it in the refrigerator for the child's lunch. If there are "hungry" children, it's because they have irresponsible parents.

      • Nick says:

        Or poor parents who are struggling to make ends meet.

        • Karen says:

          It's more than just breakfast! Families should take the time to be together. A meal is the perfect time to visit even if it's only for ten minutes. It only costs a couple of dollars for a
          Box of cereal, a
          Banana and milk. Every struggling poor person I know has a cell phone and many of them smoke. It's all about priorities and being responsible. It's a sad day in America when it's the norm for so many people to feel comfortable allowing someone else to raise their kids.

    6. Jenny says:

      I suspect that preschool is not what is needed to advance the lives of "at risk" children. It is more likely that the family dynamics and home environments of these individuals is affecting their learning and development. I would be willing to bet that single parent evironments and 3rd generation entitlement situations are the culprit in any given child's inability to thrive in the education system. It seems like a no-brainer to me and this is a self perpetuating failure.

      • Nick says:

        Head Start does address family dynamics and home environments in its work in child development. It helps parents support their kids and develops parenting skills.

        As for your comment about single aprent environments and 3rd generation entitltement (which sounds impressive, but what do you really mean by that?), I don't thing you have any sound scientific data to support your claims.

        • Bobbie says:

          Nick, a head start for the child you love wouldn't be put in the control of government "head start" programs. You'd do all you can to do the best you could to give your child the upbringing closest to your heart with care you can trust and within your control of the rules. Following government rules and lessons in contrast or keeping you from having your own to get a "head start" for your child is very dangerous!

          How can any parent trust government in today's world? I guess in today's world people take the cuts anywhere their selfishness makes the cuts and with the government con and the expense of children, it's easy for some to give into or not realize any better since government dependency is right at anyone's beckon call.

          The government has no constitutional right involving themselves into family dynamics and home environments when self governing is expected duty in America under freedom. There's civil law that shapes behavior and motivation. If people want government to provide education than why did government take over so much more when everything outside of education is left to the families and common law? But if government education costs, then it should come from those directly benefiting from it not from tax payers who are forced to deal with the consequences of it.

          Responsibility initiated, accountability held and society is a better place all the way around. The federal government wants indoctrination of the federal government's own when they call upon impressionable 3 year olds and promise education throughout. Trusting influence? NOT! Extremely suspicious to us but then again, we love our children, this country and the good of our fellow Americans!

          • vero says:

            Middle class families can afford to guide their children without sending them to school, maybe. But low income families do not have the resources or the knowledge how to prepare those children for school. Maybe Head start is not a perfect program but believe me it does make a diference in the life of children and their families.

    7. Mike says:

      It's obvious that Head Start Program needs to be taken out of the federal gov't arena. If they insist on keeping it, which they will always insist upon, turn it back to the states and let the individual states pay for its upkeep or kill it. I would vote to kill it. Why would anyone want to subsidize brainwashing toddlers? (I know the anwer, thank you)

      • Nick says:

        It isn't obvious, Mike. Head Start is a successful program that has been acknowledged as such by many, many studies.

    8. Slick says:

      Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh: "The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations ALWAYS progressed through the following sequence:
      From bondage to spiritual faith;
      From spiritual faith to great courage;
      From courage to liberty;
      From liberty to abundance;
      From abundance to complacency;
      From complacency to apathy;
      From apathy to dependence;
      From dependence back into bondage."

      Where in the process of failure would YOU say we are??? Our government has removed personal responsibility, good worth ethic, and accountability from the equation and replaced it with utter and total government dependency currently influenced by a Middle Eastern religion. . . . what comes next? BONDAGE . . . Americans better get on the stick and turn the rudder on this ship, OR we will become the property of these folks; then God help us all . . . . .

    9. Nick says:

      Why would Head Start be held accountable for the performance 1st or 3rd graders? HS delivers 5 years olds to schools ready and capable to learn. If they don't continue to be successful after the program, shouldn't we be looking at the schools that take over the responsibility for their development from age 5 on?

    10. David S. says:

      What more evidence do we need for the elimination of the Department of Education ! ?

    11. virtualjohn says:

      As with all pubic education, the Federal Government should not be in the picture. If this or any other program is good, it should be taxed for by and controlled by local government. Local control is certainly more responsive to the taxpayers and parents. Federal control of schools has a fifty year history of diminishing returns for ever increasing outlays. It has created yet another over-bloated, unresponsive, tyrannical bureaucracy. The failure to even study the effect of such a wide reaching program for over forty years is indicative of the Federal malaise. Oh, one other thing, the Department of Education and all Federal involvement in public education is unconstitutional. If we had all insisted for the last 100 or so years on the Constitution being the Supreme Law of the Land, we wouldn't be in the mess we are in. When is the time to rectify all those years of Federal usurpation? How about now?

    12. Libba says:

      This data release proves the point that Head Start has been a glorified baby sitting service for the majority of its students. Time to put this $$ somewhere it will count.

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