Cutting Head Start is bad fiscal policy

Early childhood education is the single best investment we can make for our children. Unfortunately, the U.S. House proposed a spending bill for the remainder of 2011 calling for drastic cuts to education, including a 22.4% reduction in funding for Head Start and Early Head Start.


The Senate has rejected this particular bill, but the budget debate continues in Congress. If the House gets its way in cutting nearly a quarter of Head Start's funding, 218,000 poor children will be dropped from the program and 55,000 Head Start workers will lose their jobs. Cutting costs associated with early childhood education programs such as Head Start would be penny wise and pound foolish.

Head Start is one of the lasting legacies of President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty. In 2010, the country invested more than $7 billion to prepare poor preschoolers for school success. This is a lot of money, but there is ample evidence that early childhood education more than pays for itself.

James Heckman, a Nobel laureate economist from the University of Chicago, has shown that investments in the early years yield larger returns than at any point during childhood. "Waiting until age 5 to begin formal education is too late for disadvantaged children," he says, "as we miss the opportunity to build on success."


His analyses demonstrate convincingly that every dollar invested in early education produces a 10% per annum return. If you achieved this level of return on your stock portfolio, surely you'd invest more, not less.
Too often policy does not reflect evidence, perhaps because we do not know how to employ data in a democracy. Policy privileges values over research, especially when new funding streams are involved. So instead of investing in early education, we invest in remedial education, grade retention and the juvenile justice system -- the not-so-hidden costs of school failure.

It turns out that these interventions during the school years cost a lot more than prevention efforts during early childhood, and the return on the investments is not as great.

The budget deficit is real. Congress will have to make tough choices in the years ahead; however, the congressional budget recommendations reflect ideology more than evidence. Cutting a cost-effective education program such as Head Start is neither sound fiscal policy nor sound education policy.

25 comments:

All Right Now said...

I don't know about that T/S. I see it differently. I see that everything needs to be cut. I see a 10th amendment that prohibits this type of program. I see yet another "program" that causes the government to tax the working people in order to give something to someone else. The "general welfare clause" has been given as justification for almost every instance of the federal government overstepping it's constitutional boundries. Just as often as the "commerce clause". If the individual state wants to offer such a program - so be it.... provided it doesn't violate the rights of the individual. But for the federal government to engage in this type of program cleary violates the constitution and should be eliminated altogether.

Two Sentz said...

For me its about priorities. How about instead of spending half our budget training and equipping our people to kill and researching new ways to kill, we keep this less that 1% of the budget to help young people who really need it? I'm sick of occupying foreign lands.

Liberal Elite said...

@ARN "I see that everything needs to be cut."

Why? We're not destitute. There's lots of ways the budget can be balanced. This doesn't need to be part of that.

What we funds speaks volumes about what kind of nation we are and want to be. Take care when advocating cuts...

All Right Now said...

T/S....I agree with your statement relating to occupying other lands....I'm WAY in Ron Pauls corner in that respect. I think they should take the money, cut that spending completely on matters not authorized by the constitution and drop taxes radically. And When I refer tpo the national defense - thats what I mean...not global aggression. Pay off the debt and then allow EVERYONE to keep more of what they earn......talk about an economy that will turn around. After that.....make sure the federal government works within the boundries established by our constitution.

BILL LIVINGSTON said...

Cut the political campaign funding-or tax the campaigners more for excesses they take in. The first five, or so, years of life are about as important as you get developmentally. It is where kids learn to trust, to explore, to express themselves and learn to play with, and respect each other, without becoming anti-social later.

Anonymous said...

Question? The kids that get into this program are choosen by their family income correct?

Liberal Elite said...

Yea.. It's for poor kids, so they don't grow into burdens on society. Pay now, or pay more later... (It's a money saver).

Anonymous said...

Bill? You actually said something that makes sense??? WTF???

Joe H.
Stevensville, MD

BILL LIVINGSTON said...

Now Joe {now I have a song in my head}, If I had any scruples at all, I would Shirley be disappointed at your lack of faith in me.

I always extend olive oil marinated branches..especially when local crabs come in. And to tell a dirty secret...I thought you might be one of the people most offended by that statement. With every day there is fresh hope-and hopefully, someday, accurate textbooks.

BTW-in the spirit of Wilford Brimley in 'The Firm', I would also be remiss if I didn't also retort "What do you think I am, the bloody night watch-man??"

Anonymous said...

LE:
"What we fund speaks volumes about what kind of nation we are and want to be"
that is profound and I would add "want to be known as"
Historically, the United States has not been a nation that values it's children. Putting money into programs, any programs, that target the birth to 5 population is a plus.
I believe it is uncumbent on any nation to help those who do not have the ability or resources to help themselves.

Anonymous said...

It's really not a federal government issue. If the individual state wants to kick off a program such as head start.....go for it. The federal government is constitutionally forbidden from engaging in this type of "program".

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Can it be any more clear than that?

Liberal Elite said...

"Can it be any more clear than that?"

There's a whole lot of wiggle room there.

Is giving money to the states to setup a program an encroachment of their powers?? I don't think so.

If I offered you $100 to run a charity drive, and you accept, have I violated your rights??

Anonymous said...

The programs that help the so called "poor" people are not the pronlem.. Nor are they breaking the bank (so to speak) in America.

It is the greed at the upper levels that is the problem. From the our banking system, to the war mongers, to wall street to our out of control military spending is where it should start.

How about we start with a full audit of the Fed and see where that leads us.

If you get rid of those "social" programs we would seee taht they have a negligible effect on our economy. It wouldn't solve any of the real problems.

That's why politicains only talk about it and never ever do anything about it. That plus they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

Anonymous said...

11:41 makes some good points but they still don’t make it the right of the federal government to fund. The constitution doesn't mention giving the right to the federal government to tax the citizens in order to give money back to the states.....for any reason. The federal government has a very narrow list of responsibilities. Funding states isn't one of them. Nor is funding any "program". Read the tenth amendment again. It is very clear. Why so many people try to circumvent it or ignore the obvious intent is beyond reason.

Liberal Elite said...

@9:11 "The constitution doesn't mention giving the right to the federal government to tax the citizens in order to give money back to the states."

Of course it does.

16th Amendment: "The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes..."

Article 1, section 8 "The Congress shall have power to ... provide for the ... general Welfare of the United States,..."

That's all they need, and the USSC agrees 100%. If there was any doubt, both conservatives and liberals would have cut off funding on all sorts of things a long long time ago.

The America you want simply doesn't exist. (Thank God!)

Anonymous said...

It was intended that the federal governmet collect taxes only to fund that which it is constitutionally permitted to do.

and ah.....it had to come up. The general welfare clause. And a liberal definition of the intention of the constitution. The federal government must work within its constitutional parameters while providing for the general welfare. Everything else is left for the states and the people. Just because SCOTUS agrees doesn't mean that it's right. If they agreed to bring back slavery tomorrow, would that be right too?

Anonymous said...

I know how people like to clip and paste the constitution to fit and help their causes. But you have to read the whole thing.

Of course Congress can fund different programs even the ones we don't like. It is in the constitution. Please read the thing and read the experts take on it.

Stop using it to try to get rid of programs that you don't like.

Liberal Elite said...

@8:03

You continue to push this BS like it's somehow true. It's not. Not even close. There's two possibilities:

1. You're simply ignorant.
2. You're lying.

Take your pick.

Anonymous said...

Clip and paste? You mean Like 3:32?

"The Congress shall have power to ... provide for the ... general Welfare of the United States,..."

BILL LIVINGSTON said...

LE-I would say you have a lot of balls to accuse someone of either lying or being ignorant. You are a tremendous sack of hypocritical false bull-shit yourself. by the way, why do you continue to waste time with us steerage stools when you could sip fine brandy about one of your water-front lakes...you crazy, delusional shatstain. You make me bloody sick.

Anonymous said...

Bill is off his medications again. He don't know how to get in his mirror.

BILL LIVINGSTON said...

nice bait-that isn't who you want me to think it is....go squat...

Two Sentz said...

How bout some thoughts on the new posts?

noanonymousguesses said...

Liberal Elite "thanking God"?
Maybe there is hope, after all!

Two Sentz said...

There is always hope.