Head Start has to keep its Federal Support

Data suggests that enrollment in Head Start is not determinative of whether a child is a successful elementary school student or whether a child is a higher-functioning learner through elementary grades.  Hence, those waiting for Head Start to be the silver bullet to end the achievement gap are sentenced to wait some more.  What Head Start does do (as supported by this study) is ready young children for kindergarten and deliver them to a high-quality kindergarten teacher as eager little sponges ready to grow to their next level of learning (see Exhibits 3a and 3b showing statistically significant cognitive impacts of Head Start for the four-year-old cohort and three-year old cohorts, respectively (p. xxiv-xxvi)).  This is what we should want for all children—to have the skills and readiness to begin to learn.  A program that ensures our nation’s children are ready to learn when they reach school is a program worthwhile.

But the prompt asks whether Head Start is still relevant, which probes not just into the effects of the program (though, excitingly the random assignment of this study allows us to be able to determine actual causality of Head Start), but asks us to explore whether Head Start should continue to take up policy space, research, and public priority.  Should the federal government continue to support the program?

I point to two reasons why Head Start should continue to be supported by the federal government:  (1) the alternative to no federal government support is likely state-only support (rather than no support at all) and states are not currently in positions to take on this additional responsibility and (2) the federal government has societal interest in the secondary benefits Head Start has shown to produce in low-income children and families.

See why after the jump.


Closing the School-to-Prison Pipeline [Conference]

March 8, 2012

                The purpose of the conference is to generate multi-disciplinary dialogue about the challenges and foster solutions to the school-to-prison pipeline.  There’s a call for people to work on specific areas of the pipeline, but a greater call for people to see how these pieces fit together.  The speakers are both legal and non-legal, non-profits, juvenile justice officials.  The audience includes service-providers, policy advocates, lawyers, teachers, and students.  Most dynamic, the closing session will be a dialogue from each of the panels applied to a vignette in hopes to find creative ways to approach the particular case.

Panel 1: Education—How do educational institutions add to the problem and how can they solve it?
Moderator:  Susan Cole:  HLS Director of Ed Law Clinic of Trauma and Law clinic
  • ·         Research projects are underway that look at some of the causes of disparate impact that policies have (like “zero-tolerance”).  Also developing research tools that will quantify unconscious/implicit bias in order to push public policy change.

Alana Greer, Advancement Project
  • ·         Work with community groups and national organizations to get their voices heard at the policy table.  See various takes on what the exact issues are.  Works in LA (truancy tickets for walking to class late or criminal record), Philadelphia (transfers to alternative disciplinary schools, zero-tolerance, out-of-school suspensions).  There’s a background principle being applied that students are different than they were and are more violent and need a police state.  One of the goals is getting administrators’ discretion back so that boyscouts stop getting disciplined for having sporks and students with scissors from gift-wrapping stop getting put in alternative schools.

Daniel Losen, UCLA Civil Rights Project, Director of Center for Civil Rights Remedies
  • ·         Focus on school discipline problem—the number of children getting kicked out of school for discipline issues.  For successful remedies have to get to school resources, implicit bias, effective preschool because expulsion is the outcome of these things.  Has promoted a borrowing a disparate impact analysis from administrative law—requiring that a method of administration that has an adverse impact on protected groups (even though it’s facially neutral) can still violate Title XI.  The structure of that disparate impact analysis includes (1) adverse impact on protected group, and either (2) the practice is educationally unsound or (3) less discrimination option exist.  Discipline isn’t just about safety, it’s about students getting time back in school.

Dr. Tim Lisante, New York City Department of Education
  • ·         Spent time in Rikers Island in NYC (where there are many jails) teaching and being a principal with students who were sent to the center from their home school.  At this stage, being in the center is pre-adjudication for the students until they have been through their court process.  Now he’s a bureaucrat (J) and a parent of three sons in NYC.  Works on home-school re-entry to transfer students back into their schools once finished in the court systems. (NYC has over 500 high schools).