Thousands of California children are likely to be turned away from Head Start classrooms this fall as the sequestration cuts to Head Start, the federally funded early care and education program for children under five, come into full effect. EdSource Today’s early education reporter, Lillian Mongeau, discussed the impact of the cuts recently on KQED Radio’s Forum and in a segment on NBC Bay Area.

On KQED, Mongeau joined Rick Mockler, president of the California Head Start Association, Russ Whitehurst, of the Brookings Institute and Forum host Dave Iverson to discuss how the cuts are affecting Head Start and whether the value of Head Start has been proven. Mongeau was later interviewed by NBC reporter Sam Brock for a “Reality Check” segment.

Listen to a recording of the KQED program and watch the NBC segment.


Filed under: Early Learning, Head Start, Presentations/Interviews, Quick Hits

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  1. el says:

    I happened to catch it today – nice job, Lillian.

    I didn’t really appreciate until that discussion that the studies that rate Head Start as “ineffective” were comparing the kids… to kids in other (similarly subsidized) preschool programs. I think that changes the interpretation of that information rather dramatically.

    I was also struck by Russ Whitehurst’s statement about the importance of relying on data and not just anecdote. And yet, I cannot think of any anecdotes that I’ve come across where a parent or a teacher or really anyone felt that preschool was not worthwhile for a child. And when/if the parents do feel that way for whatever reason, they would pull the kid… and other would quickly step up for the slot. I think the idea that this program is unneeded, superfluous, or overly expensive for what it is just doesn’t hold up in real life. If anything is wrong with the program, it seems to be that it’s that we try to do it on the cheap, with underpaid staff and too few slots.

    1. navigio says:

      I thought there was some detailed discussion about the head start research on this site but did not find it under the head start tag so maybe it was elsewhere. I read some of those studies and i believe they are usually mischaracterized in the press. It’s valuable to read them.

      1. Lillian Mongeau says:

        Hi navigio,

        I have not written a story looking at these studies in depth. I’ve read a few of them – at least the summaries and the conclusions – but we haven’t been sure our audience would be interested in a piece just reviewing research. What do you think?

        ~Lillian

        1. Manuel says:

          Lillian, you are asking navigio, but my feeling is that Head Start should be covered as it is a pre-K program that attempts to ameliorate the effects of poverty.

          Isn’t that what Prop. 38 wanted to do with a significant chunk of the money it was supposed to raise? Isn’t a strong pre-K component the most praised part of the Harlem’s Children Zone? Didn’t a Los Angeles-based non-profit recently received a $30 million grant from the Obama administration to reproduce HCZ in the San Fernando Valley?

          If these programs are reproducing what Head Start is supposed to have been doing since the Johnson administration, I think that educators ignore it and any lessons learned from it at their own peril. That research is the best handle there is on Head Start at this time. Any examination of its effectiveness should start there. “If not now, when?” ;-)

          1. Lillian Mongeau says:

            So that sounds like a ‘yes’ on covering the research? :) Thanks for your insights Manuel – I did address the question to navigio but was hoping for answers from many perspectives. Anyone else? Should we do a story that directly addresses the available Head Start research?

            1. el says:

              I would very much love to see such a story. As I said, I learned quite a bit about the studies from the program and (as you know :-) ) this is something I spend a fair amount of time thinking about and reading about. The meme about “Head Start is Useless” is prevalent on the web and it would be a huge service to have a strong article that I could link to that would digest and distill the information out there that would balance and/or inform people who cite that.

              I have been struck for a long time between the dichotomy of this research result with the on-the-ground local anecdotal picture – I know no one who works with kids who feels that kids shouldn’t be in preschool, and that they benefit greatly from it. Kids isolated at home especially benefit from getting a chance to be out with their peers.

              Like with small class sizes, parents almost always choose preschool if they are able to do so.

    2. Lillian Mongeau says:

      Thanks for listening el :)