Banks Introduces Head Start Improvement Act
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) today introduced the Head Start Improvement Act, a bill to reform the Head Start early childhood education program.
The legislation would give states increased flexibility in spending the Head Start dollars they receive from the federal government to better meet the specific needs of low-income children. The bill would provide Head Start block grants directly to eligible grantees, which include states, territories and federally recognized Indian tribes.
“As a father of three young girls, I understand the importance of making sure our kids receive the best education possible,” said Banks. “Unfortunately, Head Start is failing to make a significant contribution to student development, and it is clear that Head Start needs a new start. Giving states, local officials and parents greater control over the Head Start program will result in better tailored pre-K programs for Hoosier students.”
The Banks bill is a companion to legislation introduced by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah).
One of the pillars of President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the Head Start program was established in 1965 to attempt to alleviate the education gap between low-income children and their peers by providing comprehensive early childhood education services.
The program also provides medical and nutritional services while engaging parents in their child’s education. Funding and enrollment in the program have skyrocketed since its inception. In fiscal year 2015, Head Start had nearly one million enrollees and received $8.6 billion in federal funding. Unfortunately, despite the best of intentions, these investments have failed to improve academic achievement for far too many low-income students.
A recent long-term study of the Head Start program by the Department of Health and Human Services tracked 5,000 three and four-year old children from pre-K to third grade and found no improvement in language skills, literacy, math, or overall school performance by the time enrollees entered third grade.
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