Wrongheaded comments on Head Start

By From page A5 | February 12, 2014


Recently, Richard Esposito, publisher of the Mountain Democrat, wrote a column trying, and failing, to mock the idea that climate change is here, and it’s real. He ought to leave telling whoppers to Larry Weitzman, who has years of practice.

What got my attention, however, is the Mountain Democrat editorial’s argument that the Head Start program has never proven its worth: it is just a feel-good giveaway designed by Democrats. The Mountain Democrat does not include a shred of evidence to back up its claim.

Head Start is one of the more successful federal programs — ever. No less an authority than James Heckman, 2000 Nobel Prize winner in economics, says so. Heckman is a conservative who teaches at the University of Chicago, home of the Friedman School of conservative economics. Professor Heckman has specialized in the effects of pre-K education on minority and disadvantaged children.

His research has led him, inter alia, to the following conclusions: Every tax dollar invested in good pre-K education yields $17 in return because children enrolled in pre-K see their chances of being employed, and their lifetime earnings, markedly increased. And, even more important to society in general, children who have attended pre-K see the probability of going to jail and/or going on the dole dramatically decreased. The relatively small investment in pre-K educations translates into trillions saved in court, police and prison costs.

I understand why the prison industrial complex does not like pre-K education — it means fewer inmates — but what are the Mountain Democrat’s reasons?


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