Name: Seowon Jung
Class: ESL100
Date: 5/11/2008

I. Introduction

In the past, the only way of success in life for the common people was studying hard and parents were busy taking care of their children. If their children entered a castle that the king lived in, they worked in a bureaucratic ministry as an officer with a lot of followers and eventually, many children as well as parents thought that success in life was working in the castle. For this reason, the parents were hard put to it and supported their children. However, everybody was not able to focus on studying and supporting. Some people, who had to work for their family to support as a breadwinner, had to give up studying or didn’t want their children to study something. In contrast, these days every child can be educated through high school without any charged tuition. Nevertheless, there are some children who are not able to go to school this day for the same reason as in the past.

For these reasons, the government of many countries have considered some program to help the children from low-income families. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services has put in operation a program that focuses on assisting children from low-income families. This program is called Head Start. Head Start is a federal program that has provided comprehensive early childhood development services to low-income children since 1965. Services provided to preschool-aged children include child development, educational, health, nutritional, social and other activities, intended to prepare low-income children to enter kindergarten. Overall, Head Start is already successful in giving poor children an advantage when they go to school. Besides, Head Start shows today that a Head Start program of the 1970s helped participating young children achieve greater school success and avoid crime as they grew up. Hawaii also has 125 programs of Head Start that offer a wide variety of services.

Now, Head Start is evaluated one of most successful program for children of low-income families in the US. Experts have studied long-term effects of it to prove that it has been successful program and they have found a positive impact on pre-reading skills, pre-writing skills, vocabularies knowledge, oral comprehension and phonological awareness; and early math skills; and the overall cognitive development of children. Research shows that Head Start has restricted the educational achievement gap between low and high-income children; increased high school graduation rates and reduced crime. Head Start serves only half of eligible 3 and 4 years old children. Increased investments in Head Start would make it even stronger by raising teacher qualifications, enhancing curriculum standards, expanding parent coaching, and introducing interventions for children with behavioral problems. The US should invest more in Head Start to save taxpayers’ money and save lives. Under the current law, funds for Head Start go directly from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to children from low-income families. President Bush has proposed to give states the option of controlling Head Start funds and combine the Head Start program with other pre- school programs. In order to obtain control of Head Start funds, states would have to present a plan that, among other requirements, shows how they would prepare poor children to succeed in the public schools. Despite its many successes, Head Start is getting wrapped in dark clouds.

II. Issues

Head Start has come under attack over the years. Several studies have indicated that initial gains made by Head Start children on intelligence tests are not sustained (Jacques, 2001). According to Krista (2004), “When you look at where Head Start has been in the last few years, they’ve been bending over backwards to avoid literacy skills.” Some of Head Start teachers guess wrong that young children are ready to learn preliteracy, premath and other school readiness skills even though the program is appropriate whether or no for young children due to lack of responsibility of the some of Head Start teachers. However, children, who are a little wanting some what weak in the head, begin to neglect studying and eventually, they are being contrary to teacher’s expectations. Moreover, the qualifications of its teaching staff are questionable and its long-term effects on the social and educational outcomes of participating children are unclear. Nevertheless, I strongly believe that Head Start is the most successful of the great society programs because the advantages of Head Start far outweigh the disadvantages.

An another issue is that while some politicians have set their sights on Head Start, a lot of children from low-income families still don’t have the benefit of a strong pre-school education experience. According to Helen, “Recorded by researchers and lived by families, Head Start’s future is now uncertain as policy- makers debate a Bush-administration proposal that could effectively dismantle the cherished program. This debate badly misses the mark.”. Besides, Head Start teacher still earns roughly half the payment of a kindergarten teacher. On the other hand, the discussion in Washington focuses on moving the management of Head Start from the federal government to the states and restricting the services of program. Moreover, according to Isabel, “the effects of Head Start are not as clear. After nearly forty years of operation, there is not a national random-assignment evaluation of the long-term impacts of Head Start. (2003)”

Today, many families are eligible for several early-childhood programs like child are, pre-K and Head Start. A lot of children are still not served due to the lack of funding. However, given these weak points, better coordination of the resources that we have is essential to help children get a strong early-learning experience and to help parents work. For example, if Head Start offers a full-day, over 8 hours, or flexible child care program, the program will be able to help working families to extend their working-hours. Besides, if teachers of Head Start establish a fund for them, new funding for Head Start teachers will be able to help them to compensate enough so that they stay with Head Start. Both child care and pre-school education are important. Child care is essential to enable both single and married mothers and fathers to work. Moreover, the reasons why pre-school education programs are important is that they help to prepare children from low-income families for school. Since 1960s, when President Lyndon B. johnson initiated the War on Poverty, a major goal of federal policy has been to improve the educational achievement of poor children. However, now almost forty years later, despite the expenditure of billions of dollars on programs for poor pre-school children, as a recent study of experts shows that the school readiness gap between poor and rich children exists (Isabel, 2003).

III. Impacts

Head Start was launched in 1965, serving over 560,000 children and families. American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Programs also began in 1965 with 43 grantees in 14 states (GOPB, 2007).At first, Head Start was an eight- week summer program staffed by thousands of volunteers from across the nation. According to PHSA “Many summer programs became nine-month, half-day programs in the first few years, and Head Start moved to the Office of Child Development in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. (These offices were later renamed the Administration on Children, Youth and Families within the Department of Health and Human Services.) An effort to move the program to the Department of Education was actively opposed by Head Start supporters in the 1970s and in 2004; both times the move failed.”

Head Start’s goal has been to boost the school readiness of low-income children. Based on a “whole child” model, the program provides comprehensive services that include preschool education; medical, dental, and mental health care; nutrition services; and efforts to help parents foster their child’s development (HHS, 2005). Many people have paid a lot of taxes and some of taxes have been used for Head Start. Therefore, many people including the President have wondered what has happened to children and their families so far. Experts and the government have found a positive impact on pre-reading skills, pre-writing skills, vocabulary knowledge, oral comprehension and phonological awareness, and early math skills and the overall cognitive development of children. Experts have studied the long-term impact of Head Start. A long-term study shows that a Head Start program of the 1970s helped participating young children achieve greater school success and avoid crime as they grew up. According to High Scope, “the study found evidence of important effects on school success and crime. For females at one study site after adjusting for background differences, only about one-fourth as many Head Start participants as non-participants (5% versus 19%) failed to obtain a high school or GED diploma, and only on-third as many (5% versus 15%) were arrested for crimes (High Scope, 2003).”

Head Start restricted the school readiness gap between low-income children and high-income children. A study with a nationally representative sample of 2800 children showed that Head Start significantly raised average scores of children’s performance (Zill, al. 2003). Moreover, the largest gains were made by the lower-performing children, especially vocabulary test scores by the end of kindergarten. In addition to improved school readiness, Head Start graduates have also been shown to have lower crime rates as adults. In a large national survey, Head Start graduates were 8.5 percent less likely to be later arrested or charged with a crime than their siblings who attended other preschool program.

After careful review of major Head Start studies, early education experts have determined that the positive educational effects of Head Start are long lasting on a broad range of real-world outcomes like high school graduation, grade retention, and special education placement (Barnett,W.S, 2002). Some studies of Head Start initially suggested that the program’s effect on school achievement faded out over time, but these early studies were defective.

According to Campbell,S.B (2000), “60 percent of young children with elevated levels of aggressive behaviors will manifest high levels of anti-social and delinquent.” Head Start addresses this problem by giving services to help the social, emotional and behavior development of children. For example, some program, which is called The Incredible Years program, provided by Head Start centers trains parent, teachers and family to be strengthen problem-solving skills and non-aggressive social skills in children. In The Incredible Years program 96 percent showed a substantial reduction in aggressive behavior compared to 56 percent of children in The Incredible Years Program (Hammond,M.2001).

Early Head Start is a proven program that extends the benefits of Head Start to children under three. Families assigned to receive the combined center visit approach were 62 percent more likely to read to their children daily than families who didn’t receive the program.

IV. Conclusion

Despite a proverb “The poverty is incurable beyond cure.”, I strongly believe that Head Start is the most one of successful program in the U.S for low-income families. In case of my country, although politicians would make many programs and welfare policies, getting benefits from its program is not easy for every real poor people. Because, programs from politicians are usually not unrealizable for real poor people in actuality. Moreover, middle-class Koreans want to be qualified and benefited from many programs for poor people even though they are not poor. As a result, rich people become even more rich, poor people become even more poor. Indeed, despite born poor, they can overcome their poverty through industry and thrift but, there is nothing so hard to bear as poverty. I think that this point is cause that people give up an education of their children.

However, in my opinion, we have missed an important point. Experts have studied short-term and long-term effect regarding how many points they can earn. What I’m concerned is long-term effect regarding sentiment caused discrimination of the gap between rich and poor among the children at school. If rich children see some children at the class of Head Start, poor children can be exposed to the ridicule of the public because they are poor. We have heard the saying: “Poverty is no sin.” However, these day, it’s wrong. Poverty is the mother of crime.

Indeed, I don’t think that Head Start is not a direct solution to reduce the gap between rich and poor. It’s just an one of educational program for children. The qualified children is merely different from ordinary families. Therefore, if Head Start has been a program for poor children, we have to make an another program for rich children to change their understanding Head Start program. Also Head Start can not solve the problem of a desire to possess digital devices. I think that this problem is eternal question that the democratic government have to solve it.

In conclusion, Head Start have definitely reduce the gap between rich and poor; and there has been a controversy on it. However, I think we don’t have to worry about it. Because clouds always follow the sunshine and I expect that a kind of this controversy will improve a quality of Head Start. Eventually, Head Start will be a model of welfare policies for many developing countries.


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