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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nicholas Kristof, "Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?": Head Start, Costing $8 Billion Per Year, Provides Minimal Benefits

America's national debt might be $17 trillion and spiraling higher, but Nicholas Kristof knows where to spend more money. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/kristof-do-we-invest-in-preschools-or-prisons.html?_r=0), Kristof writes:

"Growing mountains of research suggest that the best way to address American economic inequality, poverty and crime is — you guessed it! — early education programs, including coaching of parents who want help."

But notwithstanding these "mountains of research," Kristof is then forced to acknowledge reality:

"Critics have noted that with programs like Head Start, there are early educational gains that then fade by second or third grade. That’s true, and that’s disappointing."

The results for Head Start have been "disappointing"? Oh really? Peculiar how Kristof fails to mention the cost of Head Start. As was reported at the beginning of this year by Fox News (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/01/14/head-start-sad-and-costly-secret-what-washington-doesnt-want-to-know/):

"‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, and while most Americans were enjoying time with family and friends, the bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) were stirring quietly about, preparing to release its long-overdue evaluation of the Head Start program.

Head Start is an $8 billion per year federal preschool program, designed to improve the kindergarten readiness of low-income children. Since its inception in 1965, taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on the program.

But HHS’ latest Head Start Impact Study found taxpayers aren’t getting a good return on this 'investment.'  According to the congressionally-mandated report, Head Start has little to no impact on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting practices of its participants. In fact, on a few measures, access to the program actually produced negative effects."

Some $8 billion spent per year and more than $180 billion burned since 1965 to achieve little in the way of results? Shouldn't someone be asking what went wrong?

But why should anyone care if spending money in this manner makes people like Kristof feel happy? After all, salving Kristof's conscience is most important and not the welfare of these underprivileged children living in poverty.

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