Nearly one million children are enrolled in the federal Head Start program that provides preschool and daycare services for disadvantaged children. By any and nearly all measures Head Start has failed to meet any of its intended goals.
Head Start was begun in 1965 as part of the War on Poverty. Head Start was designed to give a boost to the intellectual capabilities and physical health of underprivileged children. Head Start hoped to achieve this by providing education, nutrition, and health services, designed to help deprived children catch up to children living in more fortunate circumstances.
Since its inception the U.S. government has spent $167 billion dollars on Head Start. The annual appropriation has ballooned to more than $ 9 billion each year. This is tax-payer money that has been wasted.
This gloomy assessment resulted from the Head Start Impact Study began in 2002. Five Thousand children who applied to participate in Head Start were randomly assigned to receive Head Start services, or to be excluded from Head Start. This multi-year study followed all these children through the Head Start years and several grades once they entered school. It was found that Head Start has had NO effect on cognitive, socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes of participating children.
For the four-year-old cohort, access to Head Start had a beneficial effect on only two outcomes (1.8 percent) out of 112 measures. For the three-year-old cohort, access to Head Start had one harmful impact (0.9 percent) and five (4.5 percent) beneficial impacts out of 112 measures.
Well intentioned and highly skilled educators implementing a balanced curriculum to preschool children are unable to do any better than a disadvantaged parent and child can do by themselves in an impoverished environment.
The Holy Bible records that Jesus valued the experience of childhood. Jesus did not suggest the early scholastic education of children. Jesus valued children for their innocent trust and faith. Maturity is not to be rushed. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 (NKJV)
Ellen White, a 19th century reformer recognized the advantage of not regimenting a child at too young an age. She writes, “Little children should be permitted to run and play out of doors, enjoying the fresh, pure air, and the life-giving sunshine…Parents should be the only teachers of their children, until they are eight or ten years of age… The fields and hills — nature's audience chamber — should be the schoolroom for little children. Her treasures should be their textbook.”Fundamentals of Education, pp 60-61
And again, “The first lessons are of great importance. It is customary to send very young children to school, where they are required to study from books that which taxes their young minds. This course is not wise. … Small children should be left as free as lambs to run out-of-doors, to be free and happy. North Pacific Union Gleaner, April 28, 1909
After spending $167 billion dollars we have proved that these statements are true.