19 August 2013

Head Stop

Remember the Sequester? It continues to make its effects known in ugly ways. Today, CNN’s Money section ran a story about how 57,000 children will not be entering Head Start and Early Head Start pre-school programs in a few weeks, due to the $85 billion in federal budget cuts. Head Start provides children from low-income families with early education opportunities. 

That makes me mad. The whole sequestration fiasco infuriated me and everyone I know. It was the most damaging example ever of Congress saying, “Hey! We’ll put in this draconian marker that will remind us that we have to hit this deadline because we would never, ever want the results of this marker to actually take effect.”  D’oh.

The short term thinking is maddening. So now, nearly 60,000 little kids will likely never be able to catch up and will spend their whole lives behind in school. Then when they drop out because they can’t keep up with the other kids who started to learn how to read in pre-school, and can’t get anything above minimum wage jobs, if that, we'll call them lazy and say it was their fault for not applying themselves more.

All politicians talk about how investing in education and children are the priority, but when push comes to shove, their words are simply empty rhetoric. 

If there’s a silver lining, the 57,000 is better than the original projection of 70,000 kids. Head Start cut back the days the program is offered to save money as a measure to keep fewer children from being cut, according to CNN.

Roughly 1 million children attend Head Start programs.  

Today’s $10 goes to Jumpstart, a “national supplemental program,” according to its website, that encourages children from low-income families to love language and reading. Over the past 20 years, Jumpstart has trained more than 28,000 volunteers (many of them college students) to work with pre-school kids nationwide. 
According to Jumpstart, children from low-income backgrounds start kindergarden 60% behind children from affluent backgrounds. Head Start and Jumpstart help make up that gap. 

Jumpstart has many great partners: for example, Ben & Jerry’s pacted with Jumpstart by donating some proceeds from its Liz Lemon Greek Frozen yogurt to the early education program because “30 Rock” creator Tina Fey was a longtime supporter. 

Aug. 19: Jumpstart

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