Children's Futures Hanging in the Balance

At a time when one in four children under the age of five are living in poverty, how could we justify cutting their access to early education?

Amid continued austerity measures across the country, the future of the early education program "Head Start" is now in jeopardy. In times of funding shortfalls, education almost always gets cut first, a paradoxical reality that turns a temporary economic downturn into a life-long injustice for millions of Americans. But the idea that "Head Start", one of the most successful educational programs in the country, could possibly be next on the austerity chopping block is creating a national outcry. Educators, developmental psychologists and cognitive scientists have long known that the formative educational years occur during early childhood, even before traditional elementary school begins. This reality puts many low-income children at an educational disadvantage before the first day of school even rolls around, because when both parents are working long hours just to make ends meet, there is little time to coach a young child through her ABC's. Head Start steps in to remedy this inequality by providing low-income children early education in not only traditional subjects like reading and math, but also nutrition, health and social skills. Founded in 1965, the program has given a "head start" to 30 million children to date. One former headstart parent calls the program "The greatest investment in early childhood education in the country." But without Congressional action, Head Start will be doomed. Should we allow today's economic crisis to create a lifetime of educational and professional inequality for millions? Watch this video, created by American Progress, to learn more:



AlterNet / By Laura Gottesdiener

Posted at August 30, 2012, 11:52am