ERIC Number: ED356051
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1992-Dec-18
Reference Count: N/A
Caveat Emptor: The Head Start Scam. Policy Analysis No. 187.
This report questions the efficacy and utility of the Head Start program by challenging the widely accepted belief that early intervention can prevent future dependence and delinquency. This belief assumes that: (1) sweeping conclusions can be drawn from the study of a few unique preschool programs; (2) children's futures are fundamentally malleable and a brief outside intervention can make an indelible impact on children's lives despite the continuing influence of hereditary and environmental factors; and (3) successful early intervention is possible and government is an appropriate and effective provider of it. Much of the research that supports the effectiveness of early intervention preschool programs is based on non-Head Start programs or model projects. A few studies of preschool programs (such as the Perry Preschool in Ypsilanti, Michigan) show benefits extending into adolescence, but most Head Start programs do not. Much of the educational benefit of the program is only short-term. A mix of private-sector, nonprofit, church, community group, and extended-family providers is a better way to provide such care for children, poor or not. Policymakers should convert Head Start funds into vouchers to families, thus allowing poor parents to choose among providers. It is concluded that Head Start's popularity is due more to slick salesmanship and superficial thinking about child development than to proven success. Contains 40 references. (MDM)
Descriptors: At Risk Persons, Cost Effectiveness, Day Care, Early Intervention, Environment, Federal Programs, Government Role, Heredity, Poverty, Preschool Children, Preschool Education, Program Effectiveness, Social Services, Young Children
Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20001 ($4; $2 each for 5 or more copies).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Cato Inst., Washington, DC.