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Thank a Democrat: Head Start

Another in a series of occasional posts by Mike Atherton about Democrats’ contributions to American life.

The Head Start Program gives children a fair chance to a good education. The research clearly shows that when children start out well they significantly increase their chances to do better in school, work, and life. Head Start has been a leading proponent and component of early childhood education that addresses the whole child.

President Lyndon B. Johnson, a noted Democrat, declared “war on poverty” back in 1964. One of the major thrusts of this “war” was to improve education for all and especially for children living in poverty. The research then as it does today states that if we prepare young children early and well they stand a good chance of doing well in school. School achievement is a strong indicator of economic and social well-being.

Granted Head Start has bipartisan support. However, when fiscal conservatives start running around with their hatchets looking to trim the budget they often attempt to cut Head Start. Such short-sightedness is unfair and unwise.

One dollar in Head Start money pays back $8.60 dollars in reduced crime, lower anti-poverty assistance, and educational savings. That means more people are working and investing in our nation through taxes.

Head Start has a broad mandate aimed to help children in low-income families meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional, and educational needs. Since 1965 it has worked hard to fulfill this mandate teaching over 36 million children in urban, suburban, and rural areas in all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico, American Territories, and Native Americans.

Research shows that Head Start has a lasting and positive effect on children and their families. Children show progress in education and their social well-being. They enter kindergarten ready to learn which sets them up for success in first grade.

If you think American children deserve the chance to get the most out of their education, through creating and maintaining Head Start, then thank a Democrat.


About the author:

John Michael Atherton (Mike) has retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy (after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school). Four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage, first child, and PhD all at the University of Chicago. Moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where wife Cynthia Walter taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. Moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment. Just add that they are great fun to be around and you have a winning combination.

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