I just can't trust Bush. . .
NHSA: MISLEADING REHASH OF STALE DATA DESIGNED TO CONFUSE ISSUES, REVIVE "DYING" BILL IN U.S. HOUSE
WASHINGTON, D.C.///June 9, 2003/// An "overview" of attacks on the Head Start program released today by the Bush Administration contains no new data and is yet another in a series of increasingly desperate attempts to breath new life into a controversial U.S. House bill that is in serious trouble on Capitol Hill, according to the National Head Start Association (NHSA), the national organization representing local Head Start program.
NHSA President Sarah Greene said: "We are disappointed, though not surprised, that the Bush Administration is releasing a highly selective and misleading document that is a stale rehash of convenient slivers of information thrown together in an attempt to confuse unwitting lawmakers long enough to move a bill that, in fact, is in serious trouble in the U.S. House of Representatives. This gross mischaracterization of the data about Head Start is a blatant attempt to advance a political agenda. It is a desperation move. This should be about the kids, not politics. This is bad science and it is yet another slap in the face from the Bush Administration to the tens of thousands of hard-working Head Start instructors and parent/volunteers."
Greene continued: "Let's talk about the facts. The experts who have looked at the data on Head Start -- including the stale information 'released' today that, in fact, is more than five years old in some cases -- are virtually unanimous in concluding that Head Start works. It gets kids ready for school. They are better able to learn. They stay in school and out of trouble. There is absolutely no research showing that the unproven and untested approach advocated by the White House and Rep. Castle would do as well -- much less better. It is astonishing to me that people would misuse data to tear down a successful program in the hopes that people will miss the fact that they don't have a single shred of evidence that their alternative will work."
For more information about the extensive research data showing the efficacy of the Head Start program, go to http://www.saveheadstart.org/SHS_white_paper_041403.pdf
on the Web.
In discussing the rehashed-data report, Greene noted:
Stale data are being misrepresented in the report to suggest that there are current problems in relation to literacy and numeracy that are now improving. Based on new research information and a 1998 Congressional mandate, Head Start shifted in the late 1990s to a greater focus on letters and numbers. Experts have given the program credit for improvement from 1998 and on.
The Administration document deliberately ignores an obvious fact: Head Start children start out with a learning deficit compared to more affluent children. Head Start has been successful in narrowing the gap that at-risk children bring to the classroom, but it is disingenuous to point out that the narrowed gap still exists. The data shows that the otherwise enormous handicap that America's poorest children would bring to school has been reduced significantly. Head Start kids are much better ready to learn than they otherwise would have been.
HHS already has the power from Congress to eliminate any barrier to better state-level coordination. Further legislative authority is unnecessary, even though the department has not acted to promulgate regulations to reduce barriers to state coordination. State-level Head Start operations already are fully committed to working with the states. In fact, all of the success stories cited in today's Bush Administration report of state level coordination are happening currently without any open-ended block granting that would destroy the Head Start program as it exists today.
For comments on Head Start research, NHSA encourages the media to hear from unbiased experts:
Dr. Edward Zigler, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Psychology and director of the Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University. Professor Zigler is often referred to as the "father of Head Start" due to his leadership role during the Nixon Administration as a member of the National Planning and Steering Committee of Project Head Start. Contact: (203) 432-4576 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. James Elicker, Purdue University professor of child development and former Head Start teacher, education coordinator and state training coordinator. Contact: (765) 494-2938 or email@example.com
. (See unrelated news release below.)
Dr. Joan Lombardi, former HHS deputy assistant secretary for external affairs, Children and Families. Contact: (202) 364-5162.
Dr. George L. Askew, founder, Docs For Tots, and past chief, Health and Disabilities Services Branch of the Head Start Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (202) 638-1144 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Miriam Rollins, federal policy director, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Contact: (202) 776-0027, ext. 143.
Rachel Schumacher, policy analyst, Center for Law and Social Policy. Contact: (202) 906-8005.
Paul Thornell, director of public policy, United Way of America. Contact: (703) 683-7817.
The National Head Start Association is a private not-for-profit membership organization dedicated exclusively to meeting the needs of Head Start children and their families. The Association provides support for the entire Head Start family by advocating for policies that provide high-quality services to children and their families; by providing extensive training and professional development services to all Head Start staff; and by developing and disseminating research, information, and resources that impact Head Start program delivery. NHSA represents more than 900,000 children and their families, 200,000 staff, 1,900 Head Start programs, and 600 Early Head Start programs in America. NHSA provides a national forum for the continued delivery and enhancement of Head Start services for at-risk children and their families.
CONTACT: Christine Kraly, NHSA, (703) 276-3258 or email@example.com
You may have missed this, which was released earlier today:
Expert Says Head Start OK As Is
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University Head Start researcher says the Congressional movement to change the federal preschool program would do more harm than good.
"Head Start is not broken, so why make radical and risky changes in its funding and administration?" asks James Elicker, a professor of child development and former Head Start teacher, education coordinator and state training coordinator.
"There is substantial evidence that Head Start improves the health, school readiness and long-term educational outcomes of low income children, as well as provides needed support and education for their parents. The program has extremely high customer satisfaction ratings, too."
The Republican plan calls for transferring the funding and administration of Head Start to individual states using a de facto block grant formula.
"That would be a mistake at this time because administrative costs will undoubtedly increase, states will use the federal funds to replace funds lost in state budget cuts, and the net result will be a decrease in Head Start program quality and a reduction in the total number of poor children served," says Elicker, who is conducting research with three Early Head Start programs in Lafayette, Kokomo and Marion.
Elicker says that if the states inherit control of the program, it is likely the current comprehensive focus for Head Start will be lost. This change could eliminate critical services, such as early education that teaches children social skills, as well as academic skills, health and dental screenings and treatment, mental health services, parent-education programs and social services.
"Also, it is a concern that the proposed federal legislation does not strongly mandate states to follow the current national Head Start program performance standards," Elicker says.
"These performance standards have been the keystone of Head Start's quality and improvements over the past 37 years. If the performance standards are loosened, or if states are able to set their own standards according to changing political whims, Head Start as a high-quality national program for low-income children will soon be dismantled."