Editorial: Get Head Start back to normal

Published 7:24 am Monday, August 26, 2013

The sequestration’s impact on Head Start programs in American is really a shame. Here is a national effort to not only provide care for the children of low-income parents who then can have time to go work, but it also educates these children at the critical early years so they can be ready to learn in school.

If ever there was a program that offers a hand up, rather than a handout, it is Head Start.

We were sad to read last week in MinnPost about how sequestration cuts will keep an estimated 988 children from enrolling in Head Start in Minnesota. It also means about 40 fewer classrooms and more than 100 jobs with benefits. The situation is worse in most other states. Minnesota benefits from the state stepping in and picking up some of the slack.

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Kindergarten is one of the most imbalanced grades in school. People who can afford to send their children to a preschool come with knowledge, such as the letters of the alphabet, names of shapes or some basic math. Others without education might show up without even knowing the letters in their own name or even how to interact with others positively. Most of the time, the ones with less access are the ones from poorer families.

Access to education at an early age again and again has shown benefits for children moving through the academic system. It is a time of brain formation to develop important cognitive and social skills.

The sequestration is a mistake that Congress and the president need to resolve in the 2014 session and get Head Start back to its former strength. It’s one of the best investments our tax dollars buy.