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Project Head Start Is an Economic Necessity

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By Craig Truglia (editor)

History Department

[email protected]


Many progressive thinkers are strong believers in that it is society?s, thus the government?s responsibility to supply an equitable education for everyone, because education is the key to equality. Through education, one?s merit determines success and this is crucial in a fair and righteous society. Underprivileged socioeconomic classes, whether they be rural or urban, black or white are entitled to whatever tools necessary to guarantee that merit and merit alone determines success. These progressive thinkers believe programs such as healthcare, welfare, affirmative action, and Head Start are necessary for the sake of equity. However, some of these programs are controversial, because they deal with ethnicity and or increased government spending. It can be debated that programs like affirmative action are racist and that universal healthcare and welfare are too expensive and thus do more economic harm than good.

Where does this leave Project Head Start? Head Start covers all children that are economically disadvantaged and ethnicity plays no role, so what leads the Bush administration and conservatives to oppose it? Without making the issue too complicated, the simple excuse given by the above parties is that Head Start is too expensive and for the sake of fiscal conservatism must be cut. There is one major problem with this belief and because of this problem there should be now doubt in the fiscal conservative?s mind that Project Head Start must not be cut, but expanded so it covers all children: Project Head Start SAVES money and it is economically sound, because in a free trade economy education is necessary for a country to obtain an absolute advantage in trade. In fact, when one understands the issue at hand it is impossible not to believe that Project Head Start should

be universal, guaranteed to every American like a K through 12 education. There is absolutely no reason for anyone from any political leaning to not believe this, because Head Start helps guarantees everyone an equitable education, saves the government billions of dollars, and it helps ensure America?s economic viability for years to come.


For those readers who are not too certain concerning exactly what Project Head Start is, the following is a brief description. Project Head Start provides funding for preschool and in some cases daycare to the economically disadvantaged. Starting in 1965 as part of the Civil Rights Movement and the War on Poverty, by the early 1990s Head Start began to provide preschool to children starting at the age of three.1 Even though the program has grown, not everyone who is eligible benefits and as of late the Bush administration, via altering the budget and mandates is attempting to curtail the program.2 This is the state of Project Head Start today. Not only is it common knowledge, but studies upon studies have proven that preschool programs are indeed beneficial and one can see this if he or she goes to the following link: http://www.futureofchildren.org/pubs-info2...tm?doc_id=77657.


How is preschool and in particular Head Start beneficial? It has been ascertained that attendance in Head Start increases the probability of graduating high school, attending college, having a higher salary, and a decreases the probability of one being...


1. Illinois Head Start Association, ?History of Project Head Start,? History, Goals, and ?..Values. Spring 2004, < http://www.ilheadstart.org/history.html> (16 March 2004).

2. .S.E.I.U., ?Head Start Under Attack,? Education Profile. 2004, ?.. (16 March 2004).


...arrested or incarcerated.3 Not only do all of these positive results help provide the disadvantaged improve their lives through their own merit for the sake of equity, it also saves the tax payer money and helps the American economy.


Project Head Start in the long run saves the taxpayer money, but it is not difficult to understand how. Preschool and other services provided by Head Start help improve a child?s skill of exercising their intelligence through typical educational experiences. When one is not given such education, they are at a disadvantage because necessary school, people, health, and other skills are not learned. Because preschool imparts necessary life skills for the children that attend it, it is of no surprise that children that go to preschool typically will pursue a further education, make more money, and commit less crime. A citizenry that is more educated earns more money, imparts the advantages gained by a higher salary onto their children and improves the education and quality of life for future generations. Higher salaries lead to more taxes collected and an educated and better-paid society costs the government less money. How? There will be a smaller population of people committing crimes and needing government social programs. The advantages of an educated society are too important and too great to ignore.


An interesting study from W. Steven Barnett analyzed thirty eight different studies that dealt with the head start program and he was able to determine a dollar amount of exactly how much money per citizen so far Project Head Start has saved the American tax payer. Factoring in the cost of preschool at $12,356 dollars (from the year...

3. Eliana Garces, Duncan Thomas, and Janet Currie, ?Long Term Effects of Head ?..Start,? Labor and Population Program. December 2000, ?.. (16 March 2004).


...1990), the overall difference in earnings and costs of crime and welfare made it so that each child that attended Head Start saved the tax payer $19,956.4 Even though there needs to be more studies in order to determine that every Head Start child would save the taxpayer exactly twenty thousand dollars, it is really not that hard to realize that the obvious advantages offered by Head Start do conceivably lead to such an outcome. However, the point is that reducing Head Start is poor policy, because it will inevitably cost the taxpayer more money than they save. Because of this, if one is fiscally conservative he or she must support the Head Start program.


One might argue, ?As a fiscal conservative, I cannot support anything that increases the government bureaucracy.? In reality, this is a terrible argument, because by eliminating the bureaucracy necessary to support the Head Start Program, one only increases the costs of other bureaucracies, such as prisons and social programs. Head Start lowers the amount of bureaucracy, not increases, so again a true fiscal conservative must support Head Start. There is a very important reason to support Universal Head Start that is different from saving money- it is making money! As worldwide legislation brings the world?s economies closer and closer to a free trade system, it is crucial for a nation to produce the finest and most educated citizenry possible. The reason for this is that more intelligent and better-trained citizens create more technologically advanced and...


4. W. Steven Barnett, ?The Long Term Effects of Early Childhood Programs on

Cognitive and School Outcomes,? Long Term Outcomes of Early Childhood ?..Programs. Winter 1995, < http://www.futureofchildren.org/information2826/informa

tion_show.htm?doc_id=77669> (16 March 2004).


...thus more efficient workforces. This gives a nation?s economy an absolute advantage over its competitors, which ensures maximum social welfare for a nation. The preceding economics lingo means this: a better workforce allows a nation to achieve highest amount of prosperity possible. Education is therefore the key for a more prosperous society and for this reason anything that helps make this end a reality is absolutely necessary. Children that attend Project Head Start graduate from high school and pursue further education at higher rates and this leads to the more educated society necessary to create a better economy. Because of this, cutting Project Head Start is opposed to sound economics and is thus a very poor business decision for America?s future. Furthermore, to meet the greatest possible end, an Universal Head Start program is absolutely necessary, because it is a means to supplying a nation the greatest possible citizenry it can muster.


Without making an appeal to social justice, morality, or even equity one can realize that they can never be opposed to the Head Start program. There is only positive outcomes that result from increased funding to Project Head Start and only negative outcomes from decreased funding or any government mandates whose goal it is to some how hinder the program. No matter what leftist or rightist political affiliation one holds, as long as they are not opposed to saving and making money, there is perfectly good reason to support Project Head Start. Everyone should be condemning the Bush Administration for advocating and advancing policies that only hurt the education system and cost everyone more money. The fact is, Project Head Start is an economic necessity and unless one decides to tolerate unsound economic policy, inequality, and or a lesser education for the American citizen, there is no reason to support Bush and not support the advancement of one of the most important services offered by the American government.

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