Time to Ax Public Programs That Don’t Yield Results

Joe Klein, Time, July 7, 2011

{snip}

{snip} Both “liberal” and “conservative” subsidies linger in perpetuity, sometimes metastasizing into embarrassing giveaways. Even the best-intentioned programs are allowed to languish in waste and incompetence. Take, for example, the famed early-education program called Head Start.

The idea is, as Newt Gingrich might say, simple liberal social engineering. You take the million or so poorest 3- and 4-year-old children and give them a leg up on socialization and education by providing preschool for them; if it works, it saves money in the long run by producing fewer criminals and welfare recipients–and more productive citizens. Indeed, Head Start did work well in several pilot programs carefully run by professionals in the 1960s. And so it was “taken to scale,” as the wonks say, as part of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

It is now 45 years later. We spend more than $7 billion providing Head Start to nearly 1 million children each year. And finally there is indisputable evidence about the program’s effectiveness, provided by the Department of Health and Human Services: Head Start simply does not work.

According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade. Head Start graduates performed about the same as students of similar income and social status who were not part of the program. These results were so shocking that the HHS team sat on them for several years, according to Russ Whitehurst of the Brookings Institution, who said, “I guess they were trying to rerun the data to see if they could come up with anything positive. They couldn’t.”

{snip} “The argument that Head Start opponents make is that it is a jobs program,” a senior Obama Administration official told me, “and sadly, there is something to that.”

{snip} Happily, the Administration is taking steps to clean up the mess and channel money to the local programs that work most effectively, but a more complete overhaul will undoubtedly be needed. {snip}

[Editor’s Note: View the executive summary of the Head Start Impact Study here.]

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  • Anonymous

    Happily, the Administration is taking steps to clean up the mess and channel money to the local programs that work most effectively, but a more complete overhaul will undoubtedly be needed.

    Be interesting to see which programs do work. And will they still work in 20 years?

  • Racial Elitest, born to it!

    The irony of it all is that the financial collapse is forcing hard decisions upon government deficits loom so large that even the liberals are apprehensive of the future. They know that their future capacity for vote buying will be limited.

    The collapse was caused by the govt. interfering in the markets by forcing private lenders to make risky loans to the blacks- affirmative action loans, if you will.

    Now, the game is up, and the cuts will start, cutting first in the programs that are proven failure- those that help minorities.

    The joy of unintended consequences. The Iron Laws of Nature will not be mocked.

    When will blacks every advance even one step without billions of White taxpayer money? When will blacks ever say we’ll do it on our own? They are a blight upon our entire body politic and social edifice. We will see horrors in our lifetimes…

  • Anonymous

    Here is the really sad part of this story. Imagine if all of this time, our government had spent those billions and billions of Dollars on our very best and brightest students — the truly gifted and genius students at the top 0.1%. Imagine the great advances in science, medicine, agriculture, and our economy that would have resulted. Instead we spent the last 45 years trying to teach the dumbest 5% of the population the names of the colors and how to sing the Barney Song. Is there any question as to why our society and economy are in decline?

  • Anonymous

    No amount of cheating and money can change inferior genes. What a waste of taxpayer money. Give it a break. Better use of tax money would be for birth control options.

  • Question Diversity

    I read somewhere credible that we have spent $350 billion on Head Start since its inception.

    According to the Head Start Impact Study, which was quite comprehensive, the positive effects of the program were minimal and vanished by the end of first grade.

    Some might disagree with my analysis of Rushton’s work, but I think it explains that — Black children mature more quickly physically and mentally than white children, up to a point. It’s just that HS applies at the ages when black and white children are relatively equal, perhaps the blacks are a bit ahead. Likewise, a dog or a cat matures very quickly relative to a dog or cat’s life cycle than a human being. A six-month old dog can procreate, a six-month old human cannot. At the risk of sounding harsh, fast maturation is a sign of being a “lower” or “less advanced” mammal or subspecies of mammal.

  • HH

    Say it ain’t so!! What a stunner – another vaunted, liberal “social-program” turns out to be nothing more than a monumental money-wasting boondogle!! Who could has guessed this would happen?

    $7Billions a year tossed into the garbage, all to appease Blacks, and the current Administration threatens to cut off Social-Security checks, etc. because the “coffers” have run dry.

    This is America???

  • Anonymous

    “The argument that Head Start opponents make is that it is a jobs program,” a senior Obama Administration official told me, “and sadly, there is something to that.”

    Most “Save the Blacks” programs are simply jobs programs for black social workers: “employment training”, community centers, youth violence “outreach”, adult literacy programs, etc. None of them work, but they all keep money flowing into the projects.

    Here’s my suggestion – let’s just drop the office rent and utilities expenses, and pay the black “workers” to walk around the block for 8 hours a day. They can amble as slowly as they like and take lunch & bathroom breaks. They’ll lose weight, avoid diabetes, be too tired to commit crimes after work, and we can monitor them over the internet with web cameras to make sure they keeping “earning” their paychecks. It would ultimately be a better and more efficient use of our tax money.

    Just imagine lines of blacks by the thousands, in every major city, marching slowly around the city courthouse or whatever. Is it any more absurd than the taxpayer funded do-nothing jobs we give them now?

  • Tim Mc Hugh

    For those of you that weren`t here yet, They`ve been trying to make Head Start go since Bobby Vee was box office…I think that after 45 years they ought to be way ahead…What went wrong?!? And why should I still care?

  • Tim Mc Hugh

    In a previous post I made mention of when Bobby Vee was still box office… So I did my homework just now. If only Head Start could claim as much success!! Vee got his start as a 15 year old school boy on The Day The Music Died, taking over the Buddy Holly gig with a scratch backup band made up of other high schoolers…

    He also gave a start to a young musician who the world would soon know better as Bob Dylan… Some of his tunes are “Devil or Angel” “Rubber Ball” and also “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” and a personal favorite, “Come Back When You Grow Up” Mr. Vee if your an AmRen poster, I apologize for not seeing the genius sooner…

  • olewhitelady

    Every single penny that has been spent trying to “close the achievement gap” has been wasted. If a black kid is smart, he will excel in school, just as smart white, Asian, Hispanic, and Native American students will. If a black kid isn’t smart, he won’t excel, and no amount of money can change that fact.

    After a half century of throwing good money after bad, virtually everyone knows this. The liberals don’t know what else to do, so they advocate pouring more and more money over the mess. Most non-liberals are afraid to state the obvious, so they agree to keep burying the facts in millions of government funds. But now the money is no longer unlimited.

    Give black schools back to blacks! Stop testing their progress, give them the same funding as whites get, and leave them alone!

  • Anonymous

    Joe Klein admitting that a leftwing program doesn’t work? Are you kidding me? Wasn’t he one of those discovered on the JournaList, conspiring to help Barack Obama get elected in 2008?

  • A Reasonable Man

    So long as Congress is in charge, so long as congressmen run for office, so long as they get votes based on nothing more than acting like “they care,” no number of studies and no quantities of opposing facts will end Headstart.

    The fact is that Headstart is a failure at best, but will continue to the point of national bankruptcy if we rely upon our current political methods.

    The sooner we admit to such a situation the sooner we can begin on the path of correction.

  • C

    @3 — Anonymous wrote at 5:56 PM on July 12: “Here is the really sad part of this story. Imagine if all of this time, our government had spent those billions and billions of Dollars on our very best and brightest students…”

    This really nails it. The opportunity cost of Head Start is all of the other stuff we could have done with that money–and I agree, probably the best thing we could have done was to spend it on unusually intelligent children.

  • Bernie

    Wow – if Joe Klein opposes a government program you know it is bad.

  • RPM

    Of course Head Start didn’t work. It was based on the false premise that all humans are the same under the skin. We’re not.

    We’re as different as different breeds of dogs or horses.

    Send a plow horse to race horse head start and he’ll still never be as fast as a race horse.

    Send a race horse to plow horse head start and he’ll still never be as strong as a plow horse.

    Genes are us.

  • Togo East

    The mammies will never give up their free baby sitting service.

  • Anonymous

    I’m assuming this is the same Joe Klein who in the ’90s wrote (anonymously at first) the book and movie “Primary Colors”, about a President very much like Bill Clinton. Although critical of Clinton in some ways, Klein has always ridden the Donkey and not the Elephant — so it’s surprising to see him deviate from liberal orthodoxy which dictates that programs aimed at “helping” minorities MUST forever continue and expand. The more pragmatic view taken in this article is hardly the view of the Obamacrats. Is Klein proof that Democrats ARE capable of learning from their mistakes after all?

    FWIW, although I consider Head Start to have been a mistake, I view No Child Left Behind as even worse. HS hasn’t worked, but NCLB was a nonsensical, unworkable program right from the start — due in no small part to the fact its very name is absurd. NO child left behind? Really? NONE? Not even the incredibly stupid ones? Not even the criminal ones? You’re going to turn EVERY LAST CHILD IN AMERICA into a scholar no matter what? NCLB has been pure fantasy from the get-go — and for THIS reality-denying fiasco of an edjamacational initiative we can blame NOT the Democrats, but the GW Bush Republicans.

  • The Excaliber

    Black children mature more quickly physically and mentally than white children, up to a point. It’s just that HS applies at the ages when black and white children are relatively equal, perhaps the blacks are a bit ahead.

    @5

    This is not true. At no age are blacks cognitively equal to or ahead of whites.

    “The Peabody is a specialized verbal IQ test for the very young (down to age 2). It’s scored on the same mean = 100 and standard deviation = 15 scale as better-known IQ tests like the Wechsler, which the Peabody correlates with. And it shows that, among preschoolers, there exists the same one standard deviation, 15-point white-black average gap found in IQ among adults.

    “In other words, the exact same IQ deficit relative to whites that is found among black adults and older children, exists among black pre-schoolers as well.”

    http://goo.gl/67wfE

  • Middle American Jew

    Head Start basically evolved into a government-funded free breakfast program for black kids who live in free housing with people who are too incompetent or impaired to cook an egg or gather-up a bowl of cereal. Can you imagine Shaniqua actually spending money for food when it could go for rims or weed?

    It sounds harsh to say that but everyone knows it’s essentially the truth.

    It would have been cheaper just to hand out gift cards to Denny’s. Of course, then liberals would demand bus service to Denny’s for little Darnell and Trovarius. It never ends.

    Head Start then metastasized into free dinners – and now in some places these parasites are getting free meals on the weekends. And we’re paying for it.

    If it was up to Obama we’d have blacks sitting around with bibs on waiting for social workers to hand-feed them.

    This is lunacy.

    No wonder the country has collapsed.

    The only positive in this endless parade of hours is that now – all the money is gone. So is the space program but that’s another story.

    If you think blacks are unable to act civilized now just wait until they get hongry.

    And the food stamps get cut. And the little monetary perks of having an IQ of 81 in a land of 100 dry up.

    This, again, is an unintended positive. They will turn on each other. It will be ugly but by then I assume whites will be armed and no longer so tolerant, aside from watching the ghetto fireworks from afar.

  • Reality

    I’m a grade school teacher. The “kids” that come out of the Head Start program are more ignorant and downright stupid than the kids who didn’t attend it. It makes NO difference what so ever. If the brain power isn’t there to begin with no amount of a “head start” will do any good.

  • Anonymous

    9 — Tim Mc Hugh wrote at 7:08 PM on July 12:

    In a previous post I made mention of when Bobby Vee was still box office… So I did my homework just now. If only Head Start could claim as much success!! Vee got his start as a 15 year old school boy on The Day The Music Died, taking over the Buddy Holly gig with a scratch backup band made up of other high schoolers…

    He also gave a start to a young musician who the world would soon know better as Bob Dylan… Some of his tunes are “Devil or Angel” “Rubber Ball” and also “The Night Has A Thousand Eyes” and a personal favorite, “Come Back When You Grow Up” Mr. Vee if your an AmRen poster, I apologize for not seeing the genius sooner…

    ———

    There is no substitute for talent. Here is one of my favorites:

    http://wn.com/Half_Way_To_Paradise

  • John Engelman

    Social reform and social welfare spending cannot solve social problems caused by personal inadequacies caused in turn by genetic deficiencies. If the leaders of the Democratic Party had realized that before beginning the War on Poverty in 1964 the Democrats might still dominate the United States.

    You can’t fix stupid. Because liberals cannot disprove The Bell Curve, they make it dangerous to agree with it in public.

  • SKIP

    I say the program does work, and did work for both of my sons and friends’ children BUT! those were White children! The program and the money is now being wasted because most of it is being spent in predominantly black schools which, of course, are simply holding pens for little thugs with no father. While my boys were in the early school years in S.C. it was sort of a social hour when parents would drop their kids off and again pick them up in the afternoon, often BOTH parents would be there work schedules permitting. Another thing contributing to the success of our children was that if any kids were causing mischief (rare occurance) the kids would be ratted out by other parents…a system that works. Teachers would also leave the school for impromptu chats with parents so kids knew they couldn’t get away with anything, even in class. Good days, and both of my sons are the better for it and I am proud of both of them.

  • george00

    This story reminds me of one of the underlying themes of the MSM: One of the main reasons for being alive is to help the less fortunate, this usually means nonwhites and who is supposed to help them? Well, whites of course. This never works out good for whites.

  • Anonymous

    Its all just another reparations soak the filthy rich white taxpayer scheme to erase the so called “gap” because everything else fails and even after spending 100s of billions on these extra programs the results are getting worse.

    But come on now as 7 billion is a drop in the bucket and it would be racist to deny these poor kids a chance in life to succeed plus if you do drop it then guess who they get to blame for the failure?

  • anon

    BTW, people, and slightly off-topic… I am making a $50 donation towards Carter Strange’s $88K medical bills. [If you’re recall, Strange is the Columbia, S.C. youth savagely beaten by 8 oxygen thieves (race-dare-not-be-named).] I encourage all AR readers to help this family out if they can. Contributions can be made to either Wells Fargo or Wachovia:

    Carter Strange Medical Fund

    Accout #: 1010320860226

    Perhaps if enough $ is raised, a strong message of solidarity can be sent from the pissed off ranks of law-abiding , tax-paying citizenry.

  • John Engelman

    Barack Obama has been accused of “class warfare” because he favors closing several tax loopholes — socialism for the wealthy — as part of the deficit-cutting process. This is a curious charge: class warfare seems to be a one-way street in American politics. Over the past 30 years, the superwealthy have waged far more effective warfare against the poor and the middle class, via their tools in Congress, than the other way around. How else can one explain the fact that the oil companies, despite elephantine profits, are still subsidized by the federal government? How else can one explain the fact that hedge-fund managers pay lower tax rates than their file clerks? Or that farm subsidies originally meant for family farmers go to huge corporations that hardly need the help?

    – Joe Klein, Time, July 7, 2011

    —-

    These are legitimate questions.

  • Veritas

    The main reason for the further “funding” of Head Start is due to the incompetent Obama. He knew that the evidence clearly showed Head Start to be a failure; he knew there was absolutely no justifiable reason to keep it going. What did he do? He doubled the budget. He should be impeached, plain and simple.

  • Xenophon

    The welfare state, whether corporate or social, is doomed to failure. If it were possible to make an end-run around free market principles, the Soviet Union would be thriving today. Many of us have maintained that black “gains” during the past 50 years of government intervention were a sham. As we struggle to place our economy on a sound footing, the austerity will crush those who cannot compete. And we are seeing very quickly who can provide for themselves and survive and who cannot. This is going to get brutal as time goes on.

  • Former Teacher

    When will we learn, you can not force people into learning.

    Over my career I have had a (small) number of black students who actually were eager to learn but other blacks tormented them for Acting White. Soon they just gave up and became part of the crowd.

    blacks in general have very little interest in learning anything we might consider of value. The prefer using that hip hop ghetto talk as a way of communication, dressing like a 12 year old fool when they are 35, and avoiding work at all costs. This is the problem what to do about it wouldn’t fit into our New PC Correct World.

  • The Bobster

    A couple of years ago, I Googled “Head Start” to disprove a libtard’s assertion that it was an overwhelming success. Due to key word stuffing on the part of teachers unions and their supporters, the first two pages of results had articles that agreed with the libtard. But if you looked closely, you’d see that they were written by Head Start advocates. I had to go to the third page to uncover the truth.

  • John Engelman

    The failure of Head Start should not prevent us from realizing that most government spending programs have broad popular support. The government grew to its present size in response to popular demand. That is why Republican efforts to cut spending always run into effective resistance as soon as they move beyond the vague generalities of campaign rhetoric to specific legislative actions.

  • Anonymous

    In 1969, after examining Head Start for only a few years, Professor Arthur Jensen declared that the program would fail to improve the cognitive capabilities of its subjects. And he was roundly criticized and publicly threatened for his expert advice. Now, 45 years after Head Start’s inception, and 100 billion dollars poured down the rabbit hole, will we finally accept that the program is a massive failure?

  • flippityfloppity

    So it took 350 million bucks to determine when you provide an early education to 3 and 4 year olds they show significant reportable advances over those who do not receive it. But, when you take all these same children and stick them together in a K/1st grade and re-teach them the same information (teach to the slowest learner) you find no significant difference between the two groups.

    Throw shiny apples in the barrel with rotten ones and let them sit together for awhile.

    Brilliant. I guess the current administrators of the program are products of their system.

  • Yorkshireman.

    I just today posted this elsewhere on AMREN. It’s pertinent.

    Some months ago I read a story on AMREN about books being required reading in all American schools. Something to do with understanding diversity and the evils of White privilege. One particular book was hyped so I googled it and then spent a few of my good old English pounds to buy a pristine copy. ‘From Slave Ship To Freedom Road’ by Julius Lester & Rod Brown published by Penguin. Nice quality, excellent colour paintings. So which black american company printed it? Well, obviously none could be found as it was manufactured in China. It is totally racist and only produced and distributed to schoolchildren simply to stir up hatred in blacks (I suppose I should say ‘african-americans’) against Whites about an historical event which ignores all and every social advancement since. I bought it not just for my own edification but to show to a few teachers in England (without any forewarning or comment by me) to observe their reaction. Be they White, Brown or Black, not one could believe this propaganda is being stuffed into the minds of American children as part of everyday lessons. They liked the pictures and could readily see what an impact these would have on a developing mind. BTW, I am in no way ‘plugging’ this piece of propaganda and I doubt very much if any american black ever bought a copy as it was handed out for free in schools. I would love to know if any AMRENER has any knowledge about it and the effect on their own White children, if indeed any ever read it.

  • Yorkshireman.

    30 — Former Teacher wrote at 10:19 AM on July 13:

    “When will we learn, you can not force people into learning.”

    Here in the UK we are dreading this becoming the overwhelming burden on our education system without being declared ‘racist’.

    It is very obvious from such TV programmes such as ‘Crimewatch’ that more and more white juveniles are adopting ‘black’ speech and mannerisms supporting their criminal and drug related activities. I do not excuse the well ingrained antisocial behaviour of some of our own home-grown white slobs but if we beat the hell out of them as and when when we catch them at least there is no fake PC ‘racist’ excuse for their activities. BTW, we are not allowed to attack them when we find them intruding into our homes as they are legally entitled to sue us and get compensation for injuries sustained. True!

  • Anonymous

    The major reasons that Head Start has not worked is because, for all the potential good that Head Start can do, unless kids have a supportive home environment that builds on the learning experiences of Head Start, the money is wasted. It requires literate parents who provide the best supportive and nurturing environment who also value education and their children’s future. Instead, there are far too many illiterate single mothers (yes, don’t blame the sperm donor) who simply see “their children” as extra income and benefits and an excuse to not work (not that anyone would ever employ them). Unless we start putting demands on the parent, Head Start money is just being flushed down the drain. Unfortunately, there are too many mothers out there who would rather see their child be declared learning disabled to get the SSI payment rather than make sure their child is educated and disciplined enough to survive in the adult world on their own.

    In the meantime, all Head Start will continue to do is provide free babysitting services and meals (so food stamps can be used for other things) and continue to enrich minority-run businesses that make a killing off Head Start and other poverty programs.

    Maybe someone can tell me. I have always wanted to know. What gives a woman the right to reproduce at the expense of other people? Why can’t government tell a woman that benefits stop unless she is on compulsory birth control, takes drug tests, maintains a level of fitness, gets an education and learns how to be a fit parent? Why do we continue to do nothing but build an even larger base of people who will never have the knowledge, skills or ability to take care of themselves? We have enough of a challenge paying for our own kids to be productive members of society. Why do we have to support the children of other people who simply see children as an income with no responsibility and no accountability? Why do we continue to enable a “taker” population at the expense of those who pay the bills?

  • Anonymous

    As regards posts 5, 10, 20—That a program fails to accommplish what it was set up (by Congress) to attain is no

    necessary basis for ending it. Prof. Arthur R. Jensen commented years ago that he supported Head Start even though it does not

    appear to close the educational attainment gap. It may be true that in many ghetto settings, the kids enrolled in the program have a higher incidence of diordered “home” life and are less

    bright than their peers who do not enroll. I have worked in schools, too, and I’ve seen plenty of kids who find in the snack lunches of Head Start, the best meal they ever get in a typical day. For many it is the only violence free setting they ever have known. Certainly, programs like HeadStart perhaps deserve to be redefined upon the varied and full range of results they have had. That does not equate necessarily with pulling the plug or even cutting back on monies allocated–but rather just being honest about the feedback and about whatever unintended benefits have arisen.

  • Question Diversity

    5 The Excaliber:

    This is why I’m not as sure of my interpretation of Rushton’s work as I used to be. Maybe Rushton’s mouth isn’t the Bible, as painful as it is the type those words. He is an Asianophile on IQ, after all.

  • M. Sanger

    29 — Xenophon wrote at 9:47 AM on July 13:

    “The welfare state, whether corporate or social, is doomed to failure. ”

    So right. But here is the important question. Qishondra shows up, with a baby and no husband. She asks for the money to raise that baby. You can say yes, or no, or “maybe, with conditions”.

    I opt for the last option. You say “yes”, because her baby is an American citizen, just like the rest of us. But the condition is that she stop having children. After all, she showed up here and admitted that she was incapable of raising this child–thus, she is not really qualified to have children, and should have no more.