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Friday, March 4, 2011

Head Start, Even Start: Abject Failure

All federal programs should be evaluated for their effectiveness every three or four years to determine whether the funding that they receive is justified.  If not, Congress should be forbidden from appropriating tax money for the failed agency, department, or program.  The Head Start and Even Start programs are prime examples of squandered taxpayer dollars, as this article shows.  Recent examination of these boondoggles found the following.

The study tracked the progress of three- and four-year-olds entering Head Start through kindergarten and the first grade.  Overall, the program had little to no positive effects for children granted access to Head Start. For the four-year-old group, compared to similarly situated children not allowed access to Head Start, access to the program failed to raise the cognitive abilities of Head Start participants on 41 measures.  Specifically, the language skills, literacy, math skills, and school performance of the participating children failed to improve.
Alarmingly, access to Head Start for the three-year-old group actually had a harmful effect on the teacher-assessed math ability of these children once they entered kindergarten.  Teachers reported that non-participating children were more prepared in math skills than those children who participated in Head Start.

Also, Head Start has little to no effect on the other socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes of children participating in the program.[9] For the four-year-old group, access to Head Start failed to have an effect for 70 out of 71 socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes.  The three-year-old group did slightly better: Access to Head Start failed to have an effect for 66 of the 71 socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes.

Not only did these programs fail to help, some aspects actually hindered children’s development.

Facilities for these programs are usually located conveniently near federally funded housing projects or other subsidized housing.  The percentage of female headed single-parent families there is staggeringly high.  The effects of single parenting on children are harmful and detrimental to society as a whole.

In mother-only families, children tend to experience short-and long-term economic and psychological disadvantages; higher absentee rates at school, lower levels of education, and higher dropout rates (with boys more negatively affected than girls); and more delinquent activity, including alcohol and drug addiction.

Children in single-mother homes are also more likely to experience health-related problems as a result of the decline in their living standard, including the lack of health insurance (Mauldin 1990). Later, as children from single-parent families become adults, they are more likely to marry early, have children early, and divorce. Girls are at greater risk of becoming single mothers as a result of non-marital childbearing or divorce.

Another article revealed additional problems associated with single parenting.

[T]he number of children ages 15-17 in school and in good health is much lower in this group of children, and the number of children becoming pregnant at these ages is increasing.  It has been found that adolescents from single-parent families were found to be three times more likely to be depressed than those living with two parents.  Single parent homes are also associated with criminal activity in the U.S.A. Children from a single-parent household account for 72% of teenage murderers, 60% percent of people who commit rape crimes and are eleven times more likely to exhibit violent behavior.

So, Even Start and Head Start are failed experiments that provide cost free day care to unemployed single mothers who live in taxpayer subsidized housing.  It would seem that warehousing those children does little more than to provide opportunities for their mothers to breed more TANF recipients.  The kids from such an environment tend to be violent, to fail academically, to be welfare dependent, to produce at-risk, out-of-wedlock children, and to create successive generations of social and economic failure.  It is inexcusable that taxpayers' money is confiscated from them to maintain this cycle of poverty and despair.  

Gosh, could it be that bureaucrats and Theftocrats might benefit from keeping their constituents trapped in the federal welfare swamp?  Pogo was right.  We have met the enemy, and he is us.  

May your gods be with you.

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