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Monday, August 12, 2013
In her commentary (“Head Start gets an F,” Aug. 7), Deborah Ring selectively uses data to disparage Head Start and ignores data that refutes her case.
While the 2008 Health and Human Services study shows that some Head Start benefits dissipate by the third grade, it did find statistically significant positive impacts for 3- and 4-year-old children enrolled in Head Start on pre-reading, pre-writing, vocabulary and parent reports of children’s literacy skills.
Head Start is designed to get children ready for school, and the agency sponsoring the program found that it succeeds at doing that. If benefits dissipate by the third grade, that is not the failure of Head Start but a challenge facing public schools, especially in low-income areas where Head Start children attend.
We hope to hear what Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli plan to do to improve these schools during this year’s campaign.
Ring fails to note that the study shows that “among the 4-year-olds, sustained benefits were experienced by children of parents who reported mild depressive symptoms, severe depressive symptoms, and black children.”
Ring’s solution is “Head Start needs to go.” Fortunately, this is something no elected official in either party is proposing. In accepting the nomination of his party to be president in 2000, Republican George W. Bush declared: “Now is the time to make Head Start an early learning program, teach all our children to read and renew the promise of America’s public schools.”
That begins with strengthening, not ending, Head Start, and making the education of every child, in every school, the priority for the next governor.
Weather JournalEarly mix, then ice storm Sunday