Thursday, January 24, 2013

Head Start

I've written about the failure of the Head Start program before, but here's more information.

Given that it doesn't show any lasting effects--and what's the point, if it doesn't have any effect--why does that program still exist, $180 billion dollars later?  Because it's a liberal government program that has a constituency that votes Democratic.  And it makes libs feel like they're doing something to help poor kids.

Reality-based community?  This program doesn't even meet its own goals!  Why do you continue to support it?  Yes, I know the answer, I just want you to admit it.


Ellen K said...

Headstart, like so many other feelgood programs, exist simply to provide political show for those who support the program. Like other groups such as Greenpeace, PETA, NARAL these programs are simply set dressing to placate a small, specific voting demographic. The irony is that in trying to please everyone, sooner or later you end up placing groups in direct conflict with one another. Headstart spends per child far more than other programs that offer more measurable success. The problem is that those programs cannot be used as jobs programs because private and parochial schools will not accept barely educated teachers for preschool programs. When you look at Headstart, most of the "teachers" are poorly educated and few even hold degrees. While liberals like to measure success in more than one way by labeling this an educational program as well as an employment solution for the low income urban community it is a program where far too much money is spent for administrative costs and not enough it given to the barebones of the programs delivered to the children. It's just more of liberals using children to push an agenda. Where have we seen that before?

allen (in Michigan) said...

Oh, if all they were were "feel good" programs it wouldn't be so bad but like all political compromises Head Start serves several masters some of which are reflexively averse to admission.

You're right that it's immaterial whether these programs meet their goals or even if they're actually injurious to the people they were sold as being intended to help, that appearance and sensation of helping are all that's important to the bulk of the supporters.

Perhaps as important, or even more, is the imposition of the views of the supporters. The superior dictating, as much as a representative system will allow, to their inferiors.

That's why the Constitution simply has to be a living document; since it was meant to impede and delay the use of government power it impedes and delays the intrinsic agenda of the left - to rule.

mmazenko said...

And, I've responded before about the narrow scope of "effects." While these students don't have academic gains on standardized tests against students whose parents can afford private preschool, there are benefits. By wide margins, Head Start kids are:

More likely to graduate high school
More likely to attend and graduate college
Less likely to be suspended or expelled
Less likely to be arrested
Less likely to be pregnant before age 22
Less likely to use drugs

Altogether, they are much more likely to become productive members of society and less likely to be a burden and victim of social ills.

So, "effects" is a broad term, but the people you cite have a myopic focus.

Darren said...

After $180 billion I'd be happy if what you say is true. Have any evidence?

allen (in Michigan) said...

Odd, I don't recall any such response. Feel free to supply a citation of some kind on the broad and deep beneficial effects of Head Start.

Anonymous said...

The head state web site has this page:

But I don't know how to dig deeper.

As an example, the first bullet point is this: "Reliable studies have found resoundingly favorable long-term effects on grade repetition, special education, and high school graduation rates for Head Start children."

Following the footnote leads to this: "Barnett, W. S. (2002, September 13). The Battle over Head Start: What the Research Shows. Presentation at a Science and Public Policy Briefing Sponsored by the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences."

So the reliable studies are a presentation at a conference?

Googling find a PDF of the presentation here:

*This* paper doesn't cite many other studies, and the key cite seems to be another one of the same author's papers from 1998.

At this point, I'm giving up following the links. I'm sure that we'll eventually get to an actual study rather than claims about other studies, but I don't care enough to follow.

Michael? Do you care enough to follow the link trails?

-Mark R.

-Mark Roulo

allen (in Michigan) said...

Inasmuch as repeated studies have found the effects of Head Start to become immeasurable by the third grade I'd say the claim that there are all sorts of benefits that show up a decade or two later to come under the heading of "extraordinary claims". And extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

Rather more likely is that the studies that claim a late blooming benefit to Head Start are in the same class as the studies that claimed to show that raising the minimum wage didn't result in job losses among minimum wage employees - good only as a response to the painfully obvious but garbage scholarship and obviously so upon even cursory inspection.

pseudotsuga said...


The list you give is not a list of behaviors CAUSED by Head Start. They certainly may be correlated to it, but we can't in all honesty claim that all the expense of Head Start is truly worth it.
After all, all the benefits you list may also have causes such as growing up in a family with regular church attendance. But somehow I don't think we should confiscate and spend all that Federal money on church attendance...

maxutils said...

You know what really works? Parent reading to their kids. But that doesn't cost tax money ...

Mike Thiac said...


And reading also doesn't justify a massive and expensive government bureaucracy.

momof4 said...

However, it does require the ability to read; therefore, it is not an option for the regrettably-not-insignificant segment of the population who are functionally illiterate (and innumerate) and whose kids are most in need of help. Sadly, this segment of the population is also likely to be incapable of using/teaching proper speech and language, too - as well as teaching a variety of useful habits and behaviors.

Anonymous said...

Even more regrettably, some of such adults are/would be involved in the Head Start programs - aka a jobs program for the adults in the local community.

pseudotsuga said...

I myself went to Head Start as a young tad, way back in the late 1960s (very close to its start, apparently). We lived in Alturas, California at the time. Why was I in Head Start? I'm really not sure--if, as the late Lyndon Johnson claimed, it was part of the war on poverty, I suppose that my family qualified as being under-privileged or something (which probably meant almost everybody in that small town at that time, I'll bet.)
There's really no way of knowing whether or not Head Start really made a difference in my life.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Well it's beginning to look rather like we're not going to get any citations to support the assertion of numerous and long-term, other then educational, benefits of Head Start.

I'm not particularly surprised. More then likely that forceful assertion finds its genesis in some lefty blog or magazine article which, coincidentally, also fails to provide a citation in support of those benefite mmazenko claims for Head Start. Not much of a shortcoming if you've already determined that Head Start is all kinds of wonderful so what's the point of raising question, not so wonderful when confronted by a demand for substantiation.

mmazenko said...

Not hard to do some research, Allen. Let me know if you need assistance using "the google."

allen (in Michigan) said...

Not my assertion, not my job.

Present your support, such as it might be, and its value and veracity can be debated. As it is, all you've got is a bunch of unsupported, and not particularly believable, assertions about Head Start.

If you did have some worthwhile support for the myriad, claimed blessings of Head Start you'd, of course, pop loose with it. That "do some research" ploy is tacit evidence of either no evidence of the marvelous nature of Head Start or what you know to be "evidence" that falls apart like a cheap suit when subjected to even cursory examination.

mmazenko said...


In the five years, I've known your posts on blogs, I've never known you to acknowledge or listen to facts, data, reason, or logic. Thus, engaging in any attempts to sway you is a huge waste of time. Living in your bubble, you've probably failed to notice, I stopped responding to your comments long ago. I simply don't bother with you in terms of a discussion. However, since you continued to frustratingly call me out by name - tasking me to make arguments you have no interest in hearing - I took time out of my day to respond. Clearly, it bothers you to be dismissed by someone who for the most part ignores you existence and certainly your significance. Though I don't know why you'd care.

Rational people engaging in serious discussion will concede and acknowledge opposing points, even if they don't fully agree. There are plenty of people like that on this and other blogs. You've never done anything like that. I've presented many links and much data over the years that you neither read nor acknowledge. Thus, I really don't bother with you, and really never will.

Best of luck.


allen (in Michigan) said...

OK, anyone else remember all those myriad links supportive of Head Start that mmazenko's posted in the past?

I sure don't and it would be remiss of me to point out that this claim of having posted supporting data follows the "do itcherself" dodge.

It should be obvious to everyone who isn't desperately trying to protect a policy which is bereft of the value claimed for it that re-posting those links would have been rather more efficient a use of your time, Mike, then A) claiming there's support for the belief that Head Start's a worthwhile program and B) telling me to go find that data myself when challenged and C) flouncing off in a huff, nose elevated firmly above the horizon.

I'd suggest you examine your preconceptions but I know you won't and I know why. Too bad that knowledge won't help to drive a stake through the heart of this valueless, and thus costly, program.

mmazenko said...

You're a funny old man. I have an old, crazy uncle who lives in Michigan. Bet you're in the U.P. Stay warm ... and fuzzy.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Where I am is immaterial. What's material to this discussion, at least as far as the lefty mind is concerned, is that you've chosen a childish response, the textual equivalent of crossing your eyes and sticking your tongue out at me, to avoid the need for self-reflection.

That, by the way, is why left policies can only succeed in being enacted into law as an urgent response to a crisis, real or contrived; upon reflection they're uniformly judged as bad ideas so crisis, or coercion, are necessary to avoid careful consideration.

What's unfortunate is that it's lefty ideas that are judged and not lefties. If it were more widely recognized that lefty ideas are motivated by emotional immaturity they'd be seen for what they are - the unreasonable demands of self-indulgent, and over-indulged, children.

mmazenko said...

No, no, really.

Let me know how you feel about this.