General Question

JLeslie's avatar

If there are limited government funds where would you rather see the money spent on the early years like Head Start or on High School, College, and even Vocation School?

Asked by JLeslie (62852points) June 29th, 2009

I started kindergarten when I was 4, some kids were 6, I don’t think it impacted how well I did compared to others in school later on. From my own family experience I think interesting courses in high school, and free city college made a dramatic impact.

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17 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

I don’t think age is as much of a factor as poverty. Government resources should be directed to poor schools that need help the most.

marinelife's avatar

Studies show early intervention for children living below the poverty line makes a lifelong difference.

JLeslie's avatar

I thought the studies show the opposite. That by around 3rd grade kids with “head start” type programs are the same as the kids who started in kindergarten.

I can tell you that my father did not learn to read until 3rd grade…but I guess 8 year olds are unlikely to quit school. By Jr High and High school he had developed some interests and luckily NYC had great opportunities and programs within the public school system. NYC also provided him the opportunity to go to college for free at Hunter College. In the end he wound up with a PhD from Wharton. To go with my statement earlier I think 16 year olds are way more likely to quit than an 8 year old, so I lean towards spending money on the older kids.

I am pretty sure most of the money wherever you aim it, would be for lower income neighborhoods.

nikipedia's avatar

@JLeslie: According to the American Psychological Association, it looks like the jury’s still out:

“Although it is difficult to summarize the hundreds of empirical studies of Head Start outcomes, Head Start does seem to produce a variety of benefits for most children who participate. Although some studies have suggested that the intellectual advantages gained from participation in Head Start gradually disappear as children progress through elementary school, some of these same studies have shown more lasting benefits in the areas of school achievement and adjustment.”

augustlan's avatar

I’m inclined to say that the money should be spent from 6th grade on up. Most elementary school age children like school anyway, or they don’t hate it at least. Middle school and beyond is where many children lose interest, become bored or too challenged, or fall into bad habits.

That said, I sent my kids to preschool (I paid for it) at age 3, and I feel it did help them in many ways.

It’s a complicated subject, for sure.

Grisaille's avatar

Inner-city, poorer urban areas. I’d invest in elementary school, K-8.

As someone that grew up and went to school in The Bronx, I understand as well as anyone how under-the-standards students are in these areas. Catching them early, revising the educational curriculum and making them actually understand and comprehend what they are learning. As soon as possible.

With that, the desire to learn comes naturally, in my opinion.

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia thank you for the quote.

JLeslie's avatar

@Grisaille my father was in The Bronx also…see my story above. So it is ineteresting that you feel k-8 is more important. My father is in his 60’s and I do not know how the school system in NY is now.

marinelife's avatar

@JLeslie Here is a comprehensive analysis done in 2005 by the American Psychiatric Assocation, excerpted below:

“Early Head Start, a federal program begun in 1995 for low-income pregnant women and families with infants and toddlers, was evaluated through a randomized trial of 3,001 families in 17 programs. Interviews with primary caregivers, child assessments, and observations of parent– child interactions were completed when children were 3 years old. Caregivers were diverse in race– ethnicity, language, and other characteristics. Regression-adjusted impact analyses showed that 3-year-old program children performed better than did control children in cognitive and language development, displayed higher emotional engagement of the parent and sustained attention with play objects, and were lower in aggressive behavior. Compared with controls, Early Head Start parents were more emotionally supportive, provided more language and learning stimulation, read to their children more, and spanked less. The
strongest and most numerous impacts were for programs that offered a mix of home-visiting and center-based services and that fully implemented the performance standards early.”

JLeslie's avatar

@Marina If I understand the information you provided the assessment was done at 3 years old. The point that has ben made lately, and I admit was my hypothesis when the head start program was first rolled out, was that by age 10 and, especially by age 16 there would be no significant difference in the children exposed to early head start.

JLeslie's avatar

I should say I think there is value in “pre-school” programs, but my original question pertains to having to make a CHOICE of where to spend the money earlier or later. So far I lean later, but again, was interested in the thoughts of others on the subject. Thanks for your replies.

Grisaille's avatar

@JLeslie Horrid.

This is more so because of the environment, but many of my old friends cannot form a coherent argument on paper (then again, neither can I :P). Math, spelling, grammar, science – anything that does not deal with their day-to-day is lost to them. I know this is due to all of us having tough upbringings and pretty much living on the streets, but it takes WAY more effort to find a mentor/reason to stretch horizons than there should be. (I love them nonetheless.)

You see, schools teach – sure – but what they fail to do is give students a glimpse of what else is in the world outside of The Bronx. Society is foreign to them; a job with a decent salary in Manhattan is a scary, alien thought – one unattainable. It’s considered the “White World”, in fact.

This is why many turn to selling drugs, joining gangs and what have you; it’s the only thing they know. And it’s a damn shame, as this is rooted in their own self-consciousness of the world around them. They feel the need to fend for themselves, in a way – they feel as if society hates them and thinks them to be scum. This is all due to schools and teachers not instilling a sense of confidence, motivation, etc. If they were taught from a young age that everyone can achieve anything, a bunch of these problems wouldn’t exist.

Though with the dawning of Obama, I’ve been seeing that a lot of these guys have a certain level of pride now. Sure, they care less for the whole political system, but it at least gives them an example to go by. A model figure, if it were.

I was fortunate enough to not have an ignorant, drugged up mother like many of my friends. She was able to give me insight on what I could achieve and used our not-so-lavish apartments and extremely limited funds for reasons as to why we SHOULD aim high. As I said, most are not so lucky, unfortunately.

Ironically, my mother dropped out in 7th Grade.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I agree with what others have said about middle school years needing some more attention. By that time, kids should be confident to at least be able to count change forwards and backwards without a calculator, know their directions by the sun place in the sky and have had sex education.

JLeslie's avatar

@Grisaille Thank you for your detailed and informative answer. I actually have another question going about teenage pregnancy, and you said many of the things I was saying about the perception of white world, and that I feel hopeful about Obama being able to affect things in a positive direction.

Grisaille's avatar

@JLeslie Hey, no problem. Feel free to ask away.

wundayatta's avatar

I dunno. It’s a chicken and egg problem. Schools can not do it on their own. There has to be learning support at home. If those at home don’t know how to do it, they aren’t going to be able to help, and then the kid is on his or her own. Some can overcome that, but a lot can’t.

Racism, of course, has a huge impact, but far too many people use it as an excuse to keep on doing little, instead of a challenge to do better. Racism, however, isn’t the only prejudice that has an impact here. Notions about poverty and about being from a poor rural area or a poor inner city area, and about language and a whole host of other things can make it even more difficult for a child to achieve.

Models are important. It helps to believe that your efforts to make yourself better can work. You can look at Obama and say that there is a role model that gives racial minorities a lot of hope. You could also look at him and say that he had a white mother, and his father was from Africa, so his mother gave him the advantages of white privilege, and his father did not have the burden of racism shared by native born blacks.

You could look at those things and say it’s still not enough. There’s still no hope of overcoming the prejudices of society. You might as well give up doing it the mainstream way, and see if you can do it in some unusual way—with crime, or sports or entertainment.

I guess what I’m saying is that to some extent is is something that comes from the individual—at it’s most crass—whether they are whiners or problem solvers. Hard work and a “good” attitude does make a difference, no matter where you are starting from. But good attitudes tend to get beaten out of you, if your parents spank and never encourage you, or don’t have any time for you.

There is so much to overcome. It’s a whole network of related things. Class, education, income, cultural beliefs, beliefs about how to parent, beliefs about how to relate to others, etc. They can all work together to help a person accomplish what they want to, or work together to put all kinds of barriers before a person. You can try to deconstruct it, and focus on one aspect or another, and really, there is no other choice. However, because we are not focussing on everything at once, our efforts will not have as much impact as we would like them to.

Interestingly, Obama is taking a comprehensive approach and trying to do everything at the same time. This is important, because if he gets half of what he wants enacted, all these things will work together and become more than the sum of their parts.

I believe that money is best spent at a younger age, but I fear it won’t really help if you don’t address all the other ages and all the other problems at the same time. I don’t think we can afford a comprehensive approach to social problems, but I also don’t think we can afford not to take such an approach.

So, despite the fact that people I talk to say that getting a good start is the most important thing, I remain unconvinced. It’s a false choice, I think. We have to attack our problems everywhere. At all ages. In all kinds of communities. We have scarce resources, but that means we have to use them ever more wisely. Obama’s campaign took a fifty states approach. I thought that was not a good tactic, but it worked. I think we have to do the same thing, metaphorically speaking, in our approach to social problems.

tavj930's avatar

I think the earlier years like Early Head Start because the interventions is at the pregnancy and first weeks, months and years. It starts the family, mother or father on the right foot, which is to fall in love with their child and gets them involved to do the right thing in becoming involved and educating them as their first teacher. This being said, I was a victim of not having the right support in high school so even though I had the interest in school, I did not go to college right away because I didn’t have the support or direction to do so. There should be an emphasis in this country towards Education period. We should be able to compete with any nation on an intellectual level and not have to bring in people to do our jobs, but that’s another topic alltogether.

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