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Head StartWhile American History obviously includes tragic examples of racism (slavery, segregation, Trail of Tears, etc.) and bigotry (anti-semitism, Mormon Exodus, etc.), the lofty ideals of equality and freedom espoused by the Founding Fathers remain unsullied by our inability to live up to them.  For almost 240 years, Americans have loved, fought for, and died for the Declaration of Independence and its assertion that “all men are created equal.”  From the days when only white Protestant males over the age of 21 who owned land could vote until today when a minority President (only 13.1% of Americans are black) was just re-elected and the last three Secretaries of State have been (in order) black man, a black woman, and a white woman, it’s obvious America has made a lot of progress.

No one is resting on their laurels in 2013, however, and President Barack H. Obama has issued the call for additional early childhood education  to bring low-income and minority children up to the same level as middle-class and high-income children.  While I agree with the stated goal, the means won’t work.  Focusing on additional schooling for “at-risk” children is like giving cough drops to lung-cancer patients.  Maybe it will help the cough a little bit for a few minutes, but the prognosis hasn’t changed. 

The fallacy of the argument is pretty easy to spot when you consider the underlying assumption:  Rich kids somehow start kindergarten “smarter” than poor kids, so extra school early on will help.  The cold, hard facts imply that rich kids are either born smarter (no proof that intelligence is genetic) or something else is driving their scholastic and eventual professional achievement.  According to the authors of one of my favorite books entitled “Freakonomics,” the only thing that really impacts a child’s scholastic success is parental involvement.  [Author’s Note:  Read the book to get the full story.]  Seeking out the best educational opportunities, ensuring homework is completed, and providing expectations for good grades matter.  The school and genetics don’t. 

Let’s call a spade a spade:  Head Start and its sister programs are “free” government baby-sitting paid for by society at large (although the last sentence of the article cited says “The president has said this proposal and others announced in his address would not add to the federal deficit.”  Perhaps this kind of math is also part of the problem).  What lower-income kids really need are two parents who care about them.  Until we figure out the solution to that problem, no amount of schooling is going to make a difference.

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Written by floridaconservative

February 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM

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