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The Head Start ruse

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Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 9:11 p.m.

Among wasteful non-disaster-related spending in Congress' $50 billion second Hurricane Sandy relief bill is $100 million that's particularly egregious — because it's for Head Start, which the federal government knows is ineffective but keeps on funding anyway.

Now costing $8 billion annually and having run up more than $180 billion on taxpayers' tab since its 1965 inception, Head Start is supposed to prepare low-income children for school. But it never seems to live up to its billing. Evaluations in 1969, 1985 and 2005 showed that any positive cognitive effect Head Start makes doesn't last.

So does a new evaluation, which found that “you can't tell Head Start alumni from their non-Head Start peers” by the time they reach third grade, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Obama administration apparently was hoping no one would notice. That latest evaluation was more than a year overdue when the Department of Health and Human Services finally released it — on the Friday before Christmas, when most taxpayers were otherwise occupied — and only after Republicans in Congress questioned what was taking so long.

The Journal points out that wasting money isn't the only reason to quit funding Head Start, saying that “misleading low-income parents about the efficacy of a program is cruel ... .”

Yet “Congress will use the political cover of disaster relief to throw more good money after bad policy,” The Journal says. For taxpayers and low-income kids, that's a disaster in itself.



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