Is Head Start ‘Worth Every Penny’?
In light of a recent federal study, which concluded that the Head Start program does not have lasting benefits, there have been increasing calls to cut funding for the program. But in Saint Louis’ KSDK-NewsChannel 5’s recent report, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said the program is “worth every penny.”
Since 1965, we have spent more than $180 billion on Head Start. That is a lot of pennies! I am not so sure this program is worth the cost.
The KSDK piece does a nice job of presenting the traditional arguments on both sides of this issue. Unfortunately, the traditional debate lines are structured as Head vs. Heart. That is, the academic literature says Head Start is not working, but the heart says that we must serve these disadvantaged students. The proposition is set up as if it is an either-or; either we can serve low-income families through Head Start or we do not serve those families.
I firmly support helping disadvantaged families access quality educational programs. That is why I support school choice. In my opinion, the question is not whether we should help poor families. The question is whether Head Start is an effective way to do that or if there might be a more effective method.
Watch the video and tell me what you think the proper role of government is in this regard.
Additionally, here are some previous Show-Me Daily posts on Head Start:
Early Childhood Education Funding
Choice, Not Early Childhood Education, Is a ‘Smart Investment’