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Planned Bush Shenannigans with Head Start

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Fascinating timing of this announcement, just after a major government report revealed that the government has largely failed to keep track of Bush administration's unprecedented grant of Section 1115 waivers to myriad state Medicaid programs, and that this has often resulted in a reduction in the services and quality of care received by Medicaid beneficiaries.


Supporting proposals that are drawing some controversy, Bush and House Republicans want to give a handful of states the option of taking over Head Start programs now directed by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The idea would be for the states to blend such programs with existing state-financed preschool programs.


Critics fear a declining federal role will result in a lowering of standards and they say the program would lose its comprehensive mission of health, nutrition and parental involvement. Opponents also worry that states would use the federal dollars to cut state preschool funding.
post #2 of 6
: curiouser and curiouser . . .
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Here's more:


President Bush called today for a major overhaul of Head Start, the popular Lyndon Johnson-era preschool program for poor children, that would add an academic focus to its traditional emphasis on health and nutrition and give some states the right to control its financing.

Head Start programs, the president said, are "working O.K.," but "we want better than O.K. in America. We want excellence."
I ask, *ahem*: WHAT THE HELL IS "EXCELLENCE"?? Does Bush ever say anything with content?

The White House position is that the bill, and Mr. Bush's plans for the program, would improve Head Start in two ways: by merging it with often-overlapping state programs and then imposing new academic standards on the combined program, which would still be called Head Start. Mr. Bush's advisers argue that Head Start, which serves the poorest of the nation's 3- and 4-year-olds and focuses on meals and medical care, has not kept up with new research showing how soon young children can learn.

The bill would require Head Start employees to teach early reading, writing and math skills, much like many state-financed and private preschool programs. "We want Head Start to set higher ambitions for the million children it serves," Mr. Bush said.

The president also promised that there would be safeguards to ensure that Head Start money sent directly to a state would, in fact, be used for Head Start. "What we really don't want to do is say we're going to focus on Head Start, the Head Start money goes for, you know, the prison complex," Mr. Bush said.
That last line was rather telling, no?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Ah, but that would harm many large food manufacturers. The health of our corporations is far more important than that of our children, ya know.
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
The bill is marching on. It just passed in the House, 217 votes to 216:


Under the House bill, half of all Head Start teachers nationwide would have to earn bachelor's degrees by 2008. The bill also emphasizes specific teaching methods designed to foster reading, language and pre-mathematics skills.

Several Democrats said that they back such initiatives but that it is unrealistic to impose such requirements unless the federal government provides enough money to fund such upgrades. Head Start teachers generally earn half of what an average kindergarten teacher makes.

Chief Deputy Whip Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), who worked to round up votes yesterday afternoon, described the legislation as an example of how Bush is challenging states to exceed expectations in public education. "This is a reform-minded president who wants to translate his 'Leave No Child Behind' theory to Head Start education," Cantor said.

But even some Republicans questioned why the president and House leaders want to change a program that many local communities cherish. "The bottom line is I don't know why we're doing this," said Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), who opposed the bill. "I feel like we're trying to fix something that's not broken."
DeLay was so intent on getting the bill to pass that he apparently rounded up one member who was recovering from a car accident and had him wheeled onto the floor so he could vote "aye."
post #6 of 6
"What is wrong with just letting kids play?!?"

I don't think its this simple. Learning basic math and literacy skills can - and should - come through play. All early education should be done through play, but just 'letting kids play' is not the full answer.

I'd want to know more about the way that they propose to introduce these skills. If it's through high quality, structured play, then what a great thing for the children involved.

Just because the image it conjures up might be of formal 'instruction', doesnt mean that this is what the teachers would deliver. The best early childhood programmes tackle nutrition, diet, health PLUS learning basic skills and concepts through appropriate play activity. To not offer all of this to these children would seem to me an active disservice.
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