Think of the children

“Think of the children,” usually accompanied by at least two exclamation marks, is the cry of those who prefer appeals to unreasoning emotion to actual debate.

Relief for Haiti and other Third World permanent cesspools comes immediately to mind: no matter how much money wealthier nations pour into them, it’s never enough and it never seems to lift the alleged recipients (“Think of the Haitian children!!”) out of abject misery.

But let’s not feel smug and superior. We’ve got our own Haiti right here in America. And one of the “Think of the children!!” programs that has cost us over $180 billion is the misnamed Head Start. Head Start, a social engineering program started under LBJ in 1965, attempted to improve educational outcomes for poor children.

Well, there’s another $100 million in the Hurricane Sandy relief bill. Only our Congress, now apparently less popular than cockroaches, could include such a thing in a storm relief bill. But there it is.

According to an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal, Head Start costs us taxpayers $8 billion a year, and, drum roll, please…does not work.

As the Journal put it,

Since its creation as part of the War on Poverty in 1965, nearly 30 million children have participated in Head Start at a taxpayer cost of more than $180 billion. The problem is that by the government’s own reckoning the program has never achieved what it promises…

by third grade, you can’t tell Head Start alumni from their non-Head Start peers.

The Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell puts the assessment of Head start succinctly: When the Government Fails Completely.

Head Start does not work. It has not worked as measured at least three times over its history. By this point, liberals who push Head Start might have surrendered to hard data. But if they did, they wouldn’t be “thinking of the children!!!”

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