Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sequester Jester

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As the world turns toward "Sequester," fear spreads across the land. All the kings men and his horses are appearing on every television show in the country, each with his or her version of how America may nearly end if sequestration happens.

Yesterday, the administration raised the terror threat and warned that illegals could flood across the border if we go to sequestration.

We also learned yesterday that the President's salary will not be affected by sequestration.

Peggy Noonan, writing for the Wall Street Journal in an article titled, "Government by Freakout" says:

The president's sequester strategy is like Howard Beale in "Network": "Woe is us. . . . And woe is us! We're in a lot of trouble!"

It is always cliffs, ceilings and looming catastrophes with Barack Obama. It is always government by freakout.

That's what's happening now with the daily sequester warnings. Seven hundred thousand children will be dropped from Head Start. Six hundred thousand women and children will be dropped from aid programs.

Meat won't be inspected. Seven thousand TSA workers will be laid off, customs workers too, and air traffic controllers. Lines at airports will be impossible. The Navy will slow down the building of an aircraft carrier. Troop readiness will be disrupted, weapons programs slowed or stalled, civilian contractors stiffed, uniformed first responders cut back.

Mr. Obama has finally hit on his own version of national unity: Everyone get scared together.

Lets look at the 700,000 children who will be dropped from Head Start.

I understand that Head Start is a childcare program for many, particularly lower income families, but it has never been presented as such. It has always been touted as an educational program designed to give kids a "head start."

A new study published by this administration's Department of Health and Human Services and mandated by Congress, has found that students who participate in the Head Start program actually fare worse, in some ways, than those students who do not.

The study also found that the minimal positive effects of the program are not sustained into elementary school.

According to the study, Head Start “seeks to improve the educational and developmental outcomes for children from severely economically disadvantaged families.”

However, when researchers evaluated 4,667 elementary students, they concluded that the program provided no measurable benefit for children by the time they reached the third grade compared to those children who were in a similar socio-economic group but were not in the program.

The large-scale study found that children who participated in the Head Start program actually did worse in math and had more problems with social interaction by the third grade than children who were not in the program.

While Head Start students averaged better in reading/language arts by third grade, math scores were poorer for children who participated in the program. Parents of Head Start children also reported a significantly lower child promotion rate than parents of children who did not participate in the federal program.

The study demonstrated some disparate results between parental reports of the behavior of some of the children and those of teachers. Ratings of parents of Head Start children yielded moderate evidence of less aggressive behavior in their children compared to the non-Head Start group; teacher reports, however, showed strong evidence of the program having an unfavorable impact on the incidence of children’s emotional symptoms and possible effects on both ability to have close relationships and positive relationships with teachers.

In contrast, at the end of 1st grade, teachers reported more shy behavior and more problems in their interactions with the Head Start children. At the end of 3rd grade, teachers reported more problems in their relationship with Head Start children and a lower percentage of Head Start children in the normal category for emotional symptoms. Children’s own reports showed one unfavorable impact at the end of 3rd grade (peer relations).

In general, the study concludes that even when some positive effects of participation in Head Start are found in preschool age children, those effects disappear once children enter early elementary school.

In terms of children’s well-being, there is also clear evidence that access to Head Start had an impact on children’s language and literacy development while children were in Head Start. These effects, albeit modest in magnitude, were found for both age cohorts during their first year of admission to the Head Start program. However, these early effects rapidly dissipated in elementary school, with only a single impact remaining at the end of 3rd grade for children in each age cohort.

And how much does Head Start cost?

Head Start is a $7 billion program. It was started by President Lyndon Johnson. While there are a few die-hard's still trying to convince people it works, most have concluded it does not work. The study above should leave no doubt.

However, it does provide free childcare for a certain segment of people.

The Center for American Progress estimates that Obama's "universal" program will cost $98 billion over 10 years.

Interestingly, President Obama chose to go to Georgia where they provide free pre-school to highlight his own new program.

The problem? Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson quickly pointed out to the Wall Street Journal that his state's program works because it "started locally, is funded locally and doesn't have a dime of federal money."

Head Start is a 50 year flop.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Informed. Be Prayerful. Be Active. Be Blessed.