Monday, August 19, 2013

Cutting Headstart is Foolish

Now I may be a cold harded Conservative when it comes to welfare and wealth transfer, however this has to be one of the more foolish cuts.  CNN Headstart Cuts  Let's see, we want the unlucky and/or academically challenged students to catch up with their lucky and/or smart peers.  And we want to break the cycle of poverty, so let's leave these kids home with their deadbeat or over worked parents some more.  How does this make any sense at all?  Remember it is because of those parents that these kids are behind...

On the other hand, if the teacher's were compensated like other private pre-school teachers and the program was run like other private pre-schools, maybe we could have hired a bunch more teachers with the saved money and all of these kid could be going to pre-school...

I am so confused.  Thoughts?

Remember that I am a big believer in the logic of the Harlem's Children Zone Project Pipeline.  The challenge is how to replicate it in more cities.  And is there anyway to do it with public funds while the public employee unions and bureaucrats are in control?  And while the Conservatives think that all Parents are better than the support organizations.

Daily Kos Headstart
Time Headstart Ineffective
Time More on Headstart
WP Headstart works

19 comments:

jerrye92002 said...

Put me in the granite-hearted conservative camp. I have no sympathy for this sort of sob story whatsoever. After all, these liberal whiners have no sympathy for the poor taxpayer trying to foot the bill for this "stuff," and they never mention that the usual way such "cuts" (and that's in quotes because it is almost always a reduction in the rate of increase, just as it is here, and not a true reduction in spending) is to tighten eligibility requirements, meaning that the poorest are unaffected, and the richest among current recipients have to fend for themselves, like the rest of us. And in this case, it's even a no-brainer. According to TIME, the "advantage" conferred by Head Start is essentially zero, so why not cut the whole darn thing, instead of just a measly 3% or so?

OK, I'm granite-hearted, but I'm not stupid. Show me a preschool program that actually WORKS and delivers a lasting education improvement, and I'm OK having my tax dollars go to fund it. Hey, here's an idea-- how about taking an idea from a backward place like Mississippi, and give out vouchers for kids to go to a preschool selected by the parents? That we KNOW works. So why is what works not being done, while we continue to spend billions on what does not?

John said...

I think using Mississippi as an example of what is working is probably one of the things that causes people to doubt your credibility.

jerrye92002 said...

And using Mississippi as an example is why you ought to doubt what Minnesota is doing. If Mississippi does it better than we do, what does that say about us?

Since the Head Start people claim they're providing good value and educational results, why is not THEIR credibility (and budget) at issue?

John said...

Apparently others disagree with the author of the Time piece. See my last link.

Mississippi is doing much worse than MN, I check on it the last time you used them as an example.

John said...

Now if the lucky kids of the good parents are doing fine. Why again would we give vouchers to the dead beat parents of unlucky kids. Personally I think many of them would be better off raised by the state or a church...

Yet I know you want these dead beat parents to maintain control and raise them in their image. (ie propogating generational poverty)

I mean parents know best... Right... Even those that are verbally or physically abusive or neglectful.

John said...

Randomly picked ranking...
ALEC Ranking

As usual MN is way ahead of Mississippi.

jerrye92002 said...

Sorry, but when I moved from Mississippi to Minnesota, my kids were almost a full grade ahead of the kids here. And they weren't that exceptional where they were. Sure, Mississippi on average has more unlucky kids, but they make better educations for a lot less money.

jerrye92002 said...

Let me ask that the other way. Would you rather those unlucky kids get oodles of dollars to attend Head Start and get absolutely nothing for it, or give out the same money in vouchers that most likely would confer some lasting educational advantage?

John said...

Did you read the WP article? To me it sounds like it is good, but could be better. And that Obama is trying to make those changes.

WP HeadStart Improvement Plan

Of course I wouldn't expect the anti-early ed crowd to look for signs of success, since they are vested in seeing it fail.

John said...

Now if MS was ahead of MN. Something sure went wrong in later years. MS has the absolute lowest ACT scores.

ACT 2012 Scores by State
Star Tribune MN #1 Again

Laurie said...

Now that I am back to work I have less time for reading and searching the web so I am going to spare you any links.

I agree with John that preschool for at risk children is important and the govt should research and fund the most effective programs.

I think an affective focus on social/emotional skills is at least as important as learning the ABC's and early numeracy.

jerrye92002 said...

Laurie, I'm not sure you can teach "social/emotional skills." Certainly they get learned in school, but they aren't taught, IMHO. As for the rest of it, I certainly agree that early education is important, but I cannot escape the general opinion that Head Start is a failure, certainly considering the amount spent on it.

Nor am I going to deny or "quit harping on" my own experience in Mississippi. They didn't even HAVE kindergarten there, unless you found a private one for your kid-- giving them an obvious advantage. Now the state is offering vouchers so all can participate, but I digress. So what used to happen is that incoming first grade kids were given a test on what they knew, and divided into 4 groups-- A,B,C and D (an unfortunate designation, perhaps)-- and assigned to separate classrooms. Now here is the genius part: the D class got the best teacher and the A class got the new one. By the time the kids went into third grade, they assigned them to classes more or less at random, because they had all caught up to where they were supposed to be! Differences in ability, certainly, but not some crippled for not having been properly educated. So it doesn't really matter how early you start so much as how effectively you go at it, and the public schools in general do not do it effectively, period. Not even in Mississippi, after government prohibited such sensible "discrimination."

John said...

I thought you were the big "proper discipline" fan, of course you can teach social skills. Treating others with repect, doing as the teacher asks, not fighting, speaking up properly, caring for school property, etc are all critical to one's success in academics.

And the sooner the training / conditioning starts, the better. (Ie fewer bad habits to resolve) Remember: I learned everything important before Kindergarten...

And that is hard to do if you have bad or absent role models.

Laurie said...

I have an almost master's degree in teaching social and emotional skills (I didn't finish my mini thesis.) One of my licenses is for teaching students with emotional or behavior disorders and I spent 10 years in separate schools which serve these students. I don't know much about teaching these skills to preschoolers but I am sure that it is important and can be done well. Here is a link where you might learn somethings about it ( I haven't used this site lately and really don't know what they have there.)

Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

Notice the word academic in their title, as improving these skills has a positive impact on academics.

John said...

These folks agree.

MN Headstart

jerrye92002 said...

"I thought you were the big 'proper discipline' fan, of course you can teach social skills. "

We've just got a semantic difference. To me, setting behavioral expectations and instilling self-discipline are not "teaching." because it is not an academic endeavor. Yes, teachers must learn how to do it, but it isn't an academic subject. It's more fundamental than that. Either way, it DOES have to be done and in many cases is not. Teachers who cannot maintain classroom discipline cannot control larger class sizes and therefore should be paid less (while receiving training for how to do better).

jerrye92002 said...

The other thing I would point out about social skills, etc. being "taught" is that it is not a separate area of study. It MUST be "learned" in the context of the academic pursuit, and how the curriculum and instructional practices are conducted are tightly connected to the results. My example is the Montessori schools, where disciplinary matters are almost non-existent, because the kids are so thoroughly engaged in the academics. Comparing that to some of our failing public schools is a real eye-opener.

John said...

Same point remains. The sooner you start, the fewer bad habits will be in place. Less damage to undo.

I am thinking you are confusing correlation and causation again... What type of parent would place their child in a Montessori style preschool? I am guessing they would tend to be a Type A person with rather high academic expectations. Meaning that proper behavior is pretty well demanded at home.

Also, as we have noted before... Public schools have to take every student and keep them. A problem that Montessori preschools don't face.

jerrye92002 said...

"Also, as we have noted before... Public schools have to take every student and keep them. A problem that Montessori preschools don't face."

Ah, but suppose every student had a voucher? Wouldn't parents be motivated to not only find the best school, but to see to it that their kid "got" what they were paying for? What if the public schools could refuse the voucher for troublemakers, forcing parents to find a school that would and pay the difference in cost? Wouldn't good behavior be "required at home" under those conditions?

Besides, the Montessori school I'm talking about is a PUBLIC Montessori school that takes all comers.