Getting Head Smart about Head Start
January 14, 2013 - Monday
Like so many government programs, Head Start means well--but has never performed well. And while Democrats have fought tooth and nail to save the initiative, which was meant to give pre-schoolers a jump on education, even the government recognizes Head Start for what it is: a 48-year, $180 billion failure.
Head Start got its own start in 1965 as an outgrowth of the war on poverty. The goal was to try to give low-income families, who are often headed by single moms, some help preparing their toddlers for kindergarten. But instead of boosting childhood development, the program is ballooning the federal debt! And according to a new Health and Human Services (HHS) survey, that might be all the program is good for. The study (which was finished in October but conveniently released after the election) found that Head Start "had little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health or parenting practices of participants." And, by some measures, "access to Head Start had harmful effects on children."
How's that for irony? For years, liberals have criticized Head Start opponents as unfeeling elitists, when in fact, the most compassionate solution for families may be shutting down the program altogether! It turns out that federally-funded day care--even in the guise of "early childhood education"--is not typically a solution that's beneficial to children or worthwhile for taxpayers. Researchers compared 5,000 Head Start alums with their peers and were shocked to see that the program failed to make a difference (except perhaps negatively) on the kids who were enrolled in the program.
"Alarmingly, access to Head Start for [a three-year-old group] actually had a harmful effect on the teacher-assessed math ability of these children once they entered kindergarten. Teachers reported that non-participating children were more prepared in math skills than those children who participated in Head Start." Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Head Start has underperformed. The Wall Street Journal points out that federal studies in 1969, 1985, and 2005 all decried the fleeting benefits of Head Start.
In the four-year-old group, Heritage Foundation notes, "access to Head Start failed to have an effect for 69 out of 71 outcomes!" And this kind of futility doesn't come cheap. In the past 50 years, more than 20 million children have been enrolled in the program at a total cost of $180 billion. That's almost $9,000 per pre-schooler--which is almost a year's worth of in-state tuition at the University of Maryland! It's bad enough that the government is spending this much money, but it's even more inexcusable if the program isn't working--or worse, is having a negative effect! The government was supposed to help families in poverty, not put the country in debt. Yet that's exactly what Congress was proposing when the Senate used the Hurricane Sandy relief bill to tack on another $100 million for Head Start.
In the end, the people who need relief are U.S. taxpayers, who are tired of working long hours so that the government can waste more of their hard-earned money. There are other ways to help low-income children than spending for spending's sake. If President Obama truly believes that education policy should be driven by "what works," then it's time to look beyond Head Start to real solutions--like parental choice.
French Fried over Hollande's Marriage Push
French President Francois Hollande promised to legalize same-sex "marriage"--but if this weekend's protests are any indication, it might be a promise he lives to regret. Hundreds of thousands of people streamed into Paris by bus, train, and metro to rally against the proposal in what some are calling the largest demonstration in a decade. Photographers on the scene snapped pictures of the French clogging the streets from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe, many carrying signs with images of the traditional family: man, woman, and children. For the marriage movement, it was encouraging to see the citizens of a country like France, which many of us had written off, embracing marriage and its importance to society's success. Even nations that have lost their faith--and their way--can recognize the threat of same-sex "marriage" to children, family, freedom, the economy, and the culture.
"There are many people who are worried about this law," said Laurent Wauquiez, a former minister under President Nicolas Sarkozy. "Do we have to destroy the family and the place of children in it? We must pay attention to the place of children." Like many French leaders, Wauquiez recognizes that this issue goes beyond politics to natural law. If France cannot draw the line on same-sex "marriage," then polygamy, homosexual adoption and medically-assisted procreation, which the population widely opposes, won't be far behind.
Until then, the support for redefining marriage keeps dropping. Only 50% favor legalizing same-sex "marriage"--down from 65% in August. If anything, the outpouring of French support shows that the American marriage movement is not an anomaly. "The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children," said Daniel Liechti, Vice President of the National Council of French Evangelicals. Like us, they believe the harm done to society should trump the desire for special rights for homosexuals. In the fight for marriage, the French people may be an unlikely ally, but on the global stage, they're also a significant one. For more on the "new French resistance," check out Bob Morrison's new column.
Hobby Lobby Gets Crafty with Insurance Timeline
Hobby Lobby may have a reason to celebrate Religious Freedom Day after all. The mega-craft retailer announced last week that the owners have found a way for the company to bypass the $14.3 million in fines it would have already racked up. The penalty for not providing abortion drugs to employees under the President's health care mandate was supposed to go into effect January 1, but, thanks to a loophole, The Becket Fund believes that Hobby Lobby may be able to postpone the pain. "Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months," the Fund explained.
That would be welcome news for the Green family, which, in defying the President's mandate, knew their business would seriously suffer. For now, attorneys hope to focus on their upcoming case in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has yet to announce a trial date but may provide a permanent restoration of their religious liberty. In the meantime, FRC will continue to keep Hobby Lobby in our prayers--and on our shopping list! To join the movement, click here to Stand with Hobby Lobby. Also, check out our new one-minute video, available here, and share it with friends.
Last Friday, we wrongly reported that the Marines had ordered Fort Bragg, an Army base, to accept homosexual partners into "spouse clubs" on bases. That's incorrect. The Marines were simply responding to the controversy at Fort Bragg by issuing their own memo, warning the Corps that denying admission to same-sex "spouses" in base clubs would be considered "sexual discrimination." We apologize for the confusion.
** Former Secretary of State Colin Powell grabbed plenty of headlines yesterday with his condemnation of the GOP on "Meet the Press." Among other things, Powell accused Republicans of being inherently racist--having, as he called it, "a dark vein of intolerance." FRC's Ken Blackwell takes on President's Bush's Secretary of State in "An Open Letter to General Powell."
*** Christmas may be over, but FRC's Dr. David Prentice puts a new spin on the birth of the world's most famous baby in "A Manger Full of Stem Cells."
**** Don't miss "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins" live today from 5:00-6:00 p.m. (ET) on American Family Radio. Dr. Russell Moore will drop by to talk about the Pastor Louie Giglio inauguration controversy, and our own Dr. Pat Fagan will join the program to talk about the costs of family breakdown. For more information, a station listing, or to tune in live, check out TonyPerkins.com.