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Freedom of Choice for Poor Families

American Psychologist , Volume 54 (2): 144 – Feb 1, 1999


American Psychological Association
Copyright © 1999 by American Psychological Association
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Freedom of Choice for Poor Families


<p> Edward Zigler (1999 , this issue), a founder of Head Start in the 1960s, has argued that taxpayers should continue to spend $4.35 billion on part-day, part-year educational programs of highly variable quality and outcomes. Zigler cites the noneducational benefits of Head Start, but the $4.35 billion covers only educational services. Head Start does not provide medical, dental, or most social services. These are community resources that continue to be available to poor children, whether or not they are enrolled in Head Start. Although Head Start requires complete child inoculations, the same inoculations are required by all child-care centers.</p> Head Start Stranglehold on Poor Families <p>In 1999, Head Start is a dinosaur, a remnant of the government-knows-best philosophy of an earlier era. Today, competition among providers and consumers' freedom of choice have raised quality and cost-effectiveness in all sectors of the economy, but Head Start remains a bureaucratic, government-protected monopoly with a stranglehold on services to poor preschoolers. Whereas competition has brought better services to nearly everyone in nearly every arena, education remains a government monopoly. Families who can afford to pay for early education and child care choose from a variety of licensed and unlicensed programs.
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