Launched in the mid-1960s as part of the federal War on Poverty, Head Start was based on precisely the idea that government schooling could compensate poor children for their disadvantage.
It hasn’t worked out that way.
More than a $150 billion and almost 50 years later, the program is a dud. A report from October 2012 is only the most recent of a long line of studies that show fleeting cognitive gains from Head Start. The rigorously designed study adds that there is little difference in the domains of “social-emotional, health and parenting practices” between third-graders who attended a Head Start program and those who did not.
More on President Obama’s proposal for universal preschool in USA Today.