On this 50th anniversary of Head Start, the most successful and longest running national school readiness program in the U.S., it is important to celebrate, but also to address some of the serious misperceptions and misunderstanding about the value and effectiveness of Head Start.
First, the evidence is clear that children who enter school not ready to learn, are disadvantaged throughout their lives - they are likely never to “catch up” in their ability to read, learn and succeed. This is most evident for children living in poverty; in these kids there is a long term, persistent achievement gap. They are over-represented in statistics of reading failure and school drop-out rates. Head Start represents a national commitment to providing early learning opportunities for these low income and vulnerable young children and comprehensive supports to help their families achieve long-term stability and success. The Head Start premise is simple but powerful: every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to reach their full potential if given the opportunity.