Head Start, poor finish

In July 2003, President George W. Bush visited a Maryland elementary school and called for legislation to "hold Head Starts [sic] accountable for getting the job done." Last week, he reluctantly rubber-stamped a bill that contains almost none of the reforms he advocated. "I am deeply disappointed that the bill ends the National Reporting System, our only tool to examine consistently how Head Start children are performing in programs across the nation," he said in a signing statement. "I am also disappointed that the bill fails to include my proposal to protect faith-based organizations' religious-hiring autonomy." He didn't even mention that Congress ignored his idea to block-grant the program to the states, or to move it next door to the Department of Education. Representative Howard "Buck" McKeon, the ranking GOP member of the House Education and Labor Committee, put a more positive spin on the occasion, boasting that the bill "reflects Republican principles for reform: accountability, transparency, and a focus on school readiness." With "reform" like this, we're thankful that NCLB reauthorization ground to a halt in 2007--and hoping for the same in 2008.

"Bush Signs Head Start, With Qualms," Education Week, Alyson Klein, December 19, 2007

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