Why is Funding Head Start a Political Issue?

Children at the Higher Horizons Day Care Center in Bailey Crossroads, VABy: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Few federal programs have as much of a direct impact on the lives of millions of low income citizens in this country than the Head Start program does. Head Start, which was enacted as one of President Johnson's 'War on Poverty' initiatives and conceptualized by a woman named Jule Sugarman, originally started as a three week program to get low income children caught up on what they need to know to be able to start kindergarten. President Jimmy Carter greatly expanded the program during his Presidency, providing 43,000 low income children and families much needed pre-K education that they would not be able to afford had it not been for the program.

Head Start used to be a program that enjoyed broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, but it has come under attack in recent years by Republicans in both the House and Senate for being another example of Washington's 'wasteful spending' programs. This charge is something not backed up by any actual facts or statistics, but when have the Republicans ever been prone to provide facts whenever they make their wild accusations?

The Republicans started their ceaseless drive to deprive poor children of pre-K programs after they took over the House following the disastrous 2010 midterm elections. They continuously attacked the program as something the country could not afford to pay for, all the while making sure their rich donor base paid no new taxes and also ensuring the military industrial complex continued to receive billions upon billions of dollars to continue building machines of war that weren't needed. The Budget Control Act of 2011, which came about after House Republicans took the nation to the brink of default, slashed funding for programs across the board and hit the Head Start program especially hard. Over 57,000 children have been denied Head Start since this disastrous policy went into effect and that number will only get higher as time goes on.

Educating our young children should be something that is apolitical and it is a travesty that so many Republicans in this country have decided to choose their rich donors over educating poor children. This must stop or we will have an entire generation of children who aren't ready to enter kindergarten. The long term consequences of this can be immeasurable if we don't rally as a nation and decide that our children's futures are more important than tax cuts for the wealthy few in this country.
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