Thursday, September 30, 2021

Preschool Funding in $3.5 Trillion Spending Bill Is Modeled After Failed Head Start Program

Fraud, abuse, poor outcomes, and high costs. Those aren’t exactly hallmarks of successful programs, and yet, those pushing for universal preschool and child care in the $3.5 trillion spending bill currently making its way through Congress have landed on the ineffective federal Head Start program as their model.

“It is very much built around the Head Start model. We need to make sure that the Head Start model is sewn into the fabric of this new system,” Tommy Sheridan, deputy director of the National Head Start Association, told Politico.

How well has this model served families?

The Head Start program, a relic of President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” was launched in 1965, enrolling 560,000 children in the new, federally funded eight-week summer program. At the time, proponents were clear that Head Start’s “sole purpose” was to “prepare [children] for elementary school.”

As the Chicago Tribune put it at the time, “the program is designed to make the pupils’ first taste of school also a taste of success.”

Unfortunately, more than half a century later, participating students have not had that taste of success.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Head Start, revealed in December 2012 that the nearly $8 billion Head Start program has little to no impact on the cognitive, social-emotional, or health outcomes of participants, or the parenting skills of their parents.

Alarmingly, participation in Head Start actually had some negative effects on enrolled children. Federal researchers reported worse peer relations and lower teacher-assessed math ability for Head Start children.

It’s no wonder then that the results of the HHS evaluation were released on a quiet Friday before Christmas in 2012, when most of the federal government and its employees had left Washington.

As Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Jay Greene commented at the time, HHS “might as well put the results on display in a locked filing cabinet in a disused lavatory behind the sign that says ‘Beware of the leopard.’” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

The bad outcomes don’t end there.

In 2010, the Government Accountability Office found several Head Start centers around the country actively counseling families to underreport their incomes in order to appear eligible for services. Head Start employees even assured the undercover families that no one would check to see if their information was correct, doctored forms to hide income, and told applicants to misrepresent their eligibility.

And as Heritage Foundation research fellow Jonathan Butcher has reported, the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services found “significant lapses in safety practices” in numerous states.

Among the 175 Head Start centers the inspector general investigated:

[N]one complied fully with federal Head Start or state requirements to protect children from unsafe materials and equipment, and 21 of 24 grantees did not comply fully with federal Head Start or state requirements to conduct criminal records checks, conduct recurring background checks, document criminal records checks, conduct checks of child care exclusion lists, or conduct checks of child abuse and neglect registries.

The program is also increasingly expensive.

The rate of spending on Head Start has exceeded enrollment growth over the decades, and—as David Armor, professor emeritus, and Sonia Sousa, affiliate assistant professor of public policy, at George Mason University explain—had tripled to nearly $7 billion annually by 2000, with per capita spending exceeding $8,000 per child (up from $5,000 per child in real terms throughout the 1970s and 1980s).

Head Start spending crossed the $9 billion mark in 2014 (exceeding $9,000 per child per year). Today, annual Head Start appropriations total $10.7 billion annually, or more than $10,200 per participant.

Much of that spending supports Head Start staff salaries, as the program now acts as a federal jobs program for a quarter of a million adults. More than 265,000 adults were on staff with Head Start in 2018, 22% of whom were parents of children currently or formerly enrolled in the program.

Since 1965, Head Start has been a sinkhole for taxpayer dollars and an ineffective education program for children. And yet, proponents—hand in glove with Congress—want to model hundreds of billions of dollars in the $3.5 trillion tax-and-spending package on it.

It’s yet one more indication that President Joe Biden’s plan doesn’t “Build Back Better.” It’s building back bureaucracy.


Parents, Lawmakers Sue Over New York’s School Mask Mandate

A group of New York parents and two local legislators are suing to overturn the state’s requirement for school children to wear masks.

They allege the mandate was issued illegally and wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny if the state tried to pass it through the correct procedures.

They’re asking the court to toss the mandate as “arbitrary and capricious.”

State Sen. George Borrello (R-Sunset Bay), one of the plaintiffs, said he’s hearing the majority of his constituents in the Niagara Falls area are against masking children. His gripe, however, is mainly with what he sees as the usurpation of power by the governor.

“My focus is on what I believe is the unconstitutional overreach of the executive,” he told The Epoch Times.

Since the onset of the pandemic, he said he’s seen the legislature be all too willing to abdicate its responsibilities and hand over near-absolute mandate to the administration.

“I’m not against children wearing masks in school. I’m not even necessarily against mandates in certain circumstances,” he said. “But to circumvent the laws and just absolutely shred the separation of powers in your state is a scary situation.”

The office of Gov. Kathy Hochul didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health (DOH) told The Epoch Times via email that the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The mandate was announced by Hochul on Aug. 24, the day she assumed office after the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The DOH promulgated it three days later, saying school children and staff, from prekindergarten to 12th grade, have to wear masks at all times regardless of vaccination to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The rule is based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rule was issued under emergency powers, skipping the usual public comment period.

In such cases, the state law requires the administration to explain why the rule is “necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety or general welfare” and why the regular process would go against “public interest.” The explanation should also include the expected duration of the emergency.

The suit lists several precedents that indicate the state needs to be specific in its justification. It argues the administration was not.

“Department of Health’s Notice of Emergency Adoption is a boilerplate statement composed of a myriad of inaccuracies regarding the present situation in New York as it relates to COVID-19,” it states.

The suit goes on to allege the state didn’t go into details because it would have revealed the lack of a proper justification.

The rule notice says that since the emergence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19, New York has “become the national epicenter of the outbreak.” But the state hasn’t been the epicenter for over a year now, the lawsuit says.

The notice mentions the disaster emergency declared by the previous governor, Andrew Cuomo. But that one expired in June and the new governor, Kathy Hochul, hasn’t declared a new one.

The notice does mention that the current dominant variant of the virus is “twice as transmissible” and that detected infections had increased tenfold in the state. But two “conclusory sentences regarding the Delta variant are not specific reasons that would satisfy the issuance of an emergency regulation impacting millions of children in the State of New York,” the suit argues.

The suit goes further by claiming the DOH doesn’t have the authority to issue the rule to begin with.

“DOH has, as an administrative agency, the authority to fill in the gaps of broad legislation describing the overall policies to be implemented. It does not, however, have the authority to write legislation on a clean slate, creating its own comprehensive set of rules without the benefit of legislative guidance,” it says.

The suit also cites articles by several experts, including the opinions of two doctors and a neuropsychologist all opposing mask mandates for children. They said children do not face a significant risk from the virus and rarely spread it to others, based on their reading of the scientific literature on the subject. Masking, on the other hand, has a significant negative impact on children, they say, preventing children from reading lip movement and facial expressions, a crucial aspect of child’s development, and may have some negative health effects too.


Virginia Congressman Introduces Legislation to Prohibit Critical Race Theory at Federally-Funded Schools

Virginia Congressman Rep. Bob Good (R) is introducing legislation Wednesday that would make teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) at federally-funded schools a civil rights violation.

Good’s bill, the Protecting Students Civil Rights Act, would bar CRT and any other form of curriculum resembling it from permeating schools. He noted that his constituents have voiced concerns to him over what their children are being taught in schools, including that their children are being “divided by race.”

"We are introducing a bill that will make it a civil rights violation to teach critical race theory or anything resembling it by any other name in our schools," Good told Fox News on Tuesday.

“We have constituents reaching out to us from all across our district very concerned about what’s being taught in their schools,” Good added. “Their children are being divided by race. They are being taught, again, that they are responsible for the sins of their past. If they’re a white kid, they are undeniably an oppressor because of their race. If they’re a black kid, they’re undeniably a victim because of their race. We don’t believe that kids look at each other that way.”

CRT in public schools has been a hot-button issue across the country, especially in Virginia. Loudoun County, as we’ve covered, has made national headlines for pushing its agenda of CRT curriculum, transgender pronouns, and explosive school board meetings as a result.

Good, who assumed office in January, has been a vocal opponent of CRT, and specifically, the “1619 Project,” the New York Times’ journalism ongoing “project” on the history of racism in America. The “1619 Project” is reportedly being taught in some schools across the country, as well as other forms of “anti-racism” curriculum.

"What we hope to accomplish is to advance Martin Luther King's principles, which were to judge people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin," Bob said of the legislation to Fox News. “Our race doesn’t determine our future. Our actions, our values, and the things that we achieve as individuals determine our future.”




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