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ERIC Number: EJ838313
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-May
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Poverty and Parenting: Transforming Early Education's Legacy in the 1960s
Rose, Elizabeth
History of Education Quarterly, v49 n2 p222-234 May 2009
Head Start, the federal program that provides preschool education, health, and social services for children from poor families, is one of the United States' most popular government programs. Created in 1965, it has endured as a symbol of commitment to children, serving just fewer than one million children a year in neighborhood sites across the U.S. Most accounts of Head Start's history do not start much before 1964 when Sargent Shriver, charged with directing Lyndon Johnson's antipoverty campaign, decided to focus funds on young children. Neither Shriver nor most of those he consulted in planning the new program were particularly conscious of earlier efforts to combat poverty by educating young children. Nevertheless, the program they designed carried forward important aspects of turn-of-the-twentieth-century free kindergartens and day nurseries, as well as the nursery schools sponsored by the federal government in the 1930s. Head Start shared with these earlier efforts the idea that poverty could be ameliorated by bringing poor children into a structured environment, teaching them while encouraging mothers to change their parenting and housekeeping practices. It thus drew on the persistent idea that poor children suffered from poor parenting as well as from poverty. In this article, the author discusses how Head Start transformed this earlier legacy and how Head Start programs offered poor parents a new role. In the crucible of the 1960s, the idea of empowering parents and offering them jobs mingled with older ideas about reforming and instructing them. As a result, Head Start parents in the 1960s and early 1970s became important actors in shaping the program, not simply the objects of reform. Here, the author stresses that while the charitable tradition of free kindergartens and day nurseries had treated parents largely as objects of reform, Head Start parents shaped the programs that affected their children, found opportunities for themselves, and pushed to make their voices heard in a broader public sphere. (Contains 29 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A