You are here

Head Start and Goverment Programs

A story on Up & Coming Magazine entitled Do the Programs Work looks at Head Start and the lasting effects of early intervention to alleviate achievement gap in poor children.

Far too many policymakers have seen early-childhood intervention as a way for the government to inoculate disadvantaged students against the adverse effects of poverty, bad parenting and shoddy schooling. It won't work. Parenting is by far the largest factor affecting student success - and is largely outside of the control of government, at least in a free society. The other large factor is the quality of schooling, which policymakers can and should address.
In other words, the problem is not - as the education establishment prefers to frame it - that children don't spend enough years in government programs. The problem is that the years our children do spend in government schools are not being used productively.
Alternative policies do exist and offer a realistic prospect of much larger gains than preschool intervention. For example, enough solid research is now present to conclude that certain teaching approaches, such as phonics-based reading programs and Direct Instruction, work best to reduce achievement gaps. Enough solid, experimental research also demonstrates that poor children, at least, benefit significantly from choice programs involving public and private schools.