President Obama Announces New Improvements for Head Start Program

National Head Start Alphabet Block LogoPresident Obama has been an advocate for improving the quality of education that children in the USA receive for years, and now, he has taken another step in this direction. On Tuesday, he announced some changes that are going to be made to the Head Start program. This program allows children from low-income families to attend preschool.

“This is the first time in history that Head Start programs will truly be held accountable for performance,” Obama said during a speech.

It is somewhat strange that Head Start has not been held accountable to the same standards as otherĀ  education programs, such as No Child Left Behind and other reform efforts. Under the current rules, preschools can continue to receive funding from Head Start even if they are not revising and improving their programs.

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Preschool Creates Long Term Benefits for Students

A new survey points out something that most of us have known for a long time: a better early education can have lasting and beneficial results for students’ entire lives. What kind of benefits are we talking about here? Surprisingly, it’s not just increased levels of intelligence or capabilities; the new study shows that preschool can lead to better jobs, fewer arrests, and less drug abuse.

This study followed more than 1,000 children from low-income families for more than 25 years. One of these students is Michael Washington. When he was four-years old, Washington attended a preschool where he took field trips to educational sites like the library and planetarium. These experiences are where Washington first discovered his love of science. He is now a heating and air conditioning and ceiling fan contractor.

“You expect your mom and dad to care for you,” Washington said. “But when a stranger, who has no ties to you whatsoever, takes the time to invest in you, takes the time to listen, that makes you open your eyes bigger. It was real cool.”

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Thousands Wait-Listed for Head Start

national-head-startHead Start is a federally-funded program that gives low-income families the oppertunity to enroll their children in free pre-kindergarten programs. Students who attend pre-K classes are shown to benefit on many developmental levels and are 35 percent less likely to fail a grade later on in elementary school. Private preschools can cost as much as $10,000 per year.

There are about 49,000 Head Start classrooms across the U.S., but thousands of children are on waiting lists. “My friend’s son got in,” said Lamont Butler, a single father. “At 4, he can already spell his name, do simple math, and he isn’t so shy any more.” But Butler is struggling to get his 3-year-old daughter enrolled. Caring for her makes it difficult for him to find work, and he worries that she’s missing out on the benefits that others are receiving from this early education.

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Preschoolers Take Entrance Exams for Kindergarten

young readerI think a little healthy competition between students is a good thing. Take preparing for the SAT with a group: you all work together, but you secretly want to do better than everyone else, so you study longer than your partners, end up doing well on the test, and get into your dream school.

There is nothing wrong with that. Unless, of course, you are a preschooler.

This year, 10 percent more preschool students in New York City are qualify for gifted or advanced kindergarten programs than last year, according to the New York Times. This increase is credited to parent and child cooperation with a new admission process that includes an admission test.

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