In the running for worst idea of the year, the National Head Start Association is pressing its members to lobby hard in coming days for Congress??and the Obama administration to include $4.3 billion for Head Start in the forthcoming economic stimulus package. Among other things, they want higher pay for Head Start program directors.
Head Start is, of course, an iconic program revered by many. But it's no education program. Forty years of evaluations have demonstrated that Head Start does next to nothing to prepare its young charges--needy three- and four-year-olds--to succeed in kindergarten and beyond, and that whatever gains it??yields quickly dissipate once the kids enroll in school.
The major reason it's ineffective as a pre-school program is because it has no curriculum and little cognitive content, because most of its staffers are "child care workers", not teachers, and because the National Head Start Association itself has defied every effort by policymakers to transform it into the pre-literacy program that it ought to be and that these kids truly need.
Dumping more money on it--flooding the Congress with pleas for?? that--is, to put it mildly, a genuinely ineffectual...