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Mel Gravely

New guidelines for Head Start will encourage competition

Head Start made the news this week as President Obama announced new guidelines for programs receiving the grants. Head Start programs will now be required to meet certain standards, or benchmarks, in order to qualify for renewal of their grants. The feds will be taking money from programs that aren’t working and putting the money into those that are successful. This involves more than 1600 programs across the country operating around 49,000 classrooms.

In other words, each program will now have to compete for funding. I think this is a good step in the right direction.

A report released last year found that Head Start, which receives more than $7 billion in federal funding, created no long-lasting academic gains. This is not good news, especially for the preschool children, for whom the program is intended to help.

As I travel to various Head Start agencies around the country, I see many differences from program to program. There are some teachers and managers doing great work in their classrooms. And I see others that could use some improvement. Obama’s new guidelines will now encourage every Head Start manager and teacher to be better. And isn’t that better for the children overall?

Healthy competition

I love these new standards. Competition is healthy; Head Start should not be an entitlement program for the schools. Just as in the private sector, where businesses have to keep improving their operations in order to stay competitive and keep customers, the federal government will reward those programs that are doing their best to improve children’s long-term academic gains.

In my next post, I will discuss each of Obama’s benchmarks and ask you what you think.

What do you think of Obama’s new guidelines for the Head Start program? Do you agree with them? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts.



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