Head Start and Beyond: A National Plan for Extended Childhood Intervention
For almost thirty years, the U.S. government has funded education programs to help disadvantaged children succeed in school. In this important new book, Edward Zigler, one of the leading figures in this effort, and his associates evaluate the three existing programs (Head Start, Follow Through, and Chapter 1), Senator Edward Kennedy describes the newly created Head Start Transition Project, and the authors propose a bold plan to redirect and consolidate the programs in order to achieve a coherent, comprehensive policy for the nation's impoverished young children.
The authors conclude that the Head Start model has been effective in enhancing the social competence and school success of poor children. They argue that Follow Through, which was intended to be a national program, now represents a tiny experiment in education that is too minimally funded to have an impact. And Chapter 1, which exists in over 90 percent of the nation's school districts and is massively funded, has become a supplementary funding program for local schools rather than a demonstrably effective educational treatment. The new Head Start Transition Project plans to extend Head Start's health and other support services, its efforts to involve parents, and its creative programming and evaluation to children in kindergarten through third grade. The authors suggest an alternative plan: that the huge Chapter 1 program adopt the model of the Transition Project and become the school-age version of Head Start, creating a well-funded, coordinated, and cost-effective series of interventions with unified goals and comprehensive services to meet the needs of poor children from the preschool years through the early elementary grades.
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