HEAD START provides an account of how the Head Start program was conceived and how it has managed to survive both the well-intentioned errors of its friends and political hostility of its enemies. The authors are well qualified to tell this story. Zigler, a psychologist at Yale, was one of Head Start’s founders in 1965. He also was administratively responsible for the program from 1968 to 1971 when he directed the Office of Child Development under President Richard Nixon. Muenchow, a former journalist, coauthored a 1980 presidential report on Head Start with Zigler and currently works as an advocate for children’s services.
Written from Zigler’s perspective, the book begins with an account of Head Start’s hasty beginning (“operation rush-rush”). The purpose of Head Start was multifold. In addition to accomplishing the desperate allocation of unexpended Community Action Program funds, the program was primarily designed to prepare economically disadvantaged, preschool children for increased academic success. It was also supposed to provide jobs for disadvantaged adults and politically to empower impoverished parents and communities. These purposes have not been easily reconciled. In addition, Head Start’s hasty beginning led to conspicuous unevenness in performance. Other obstacles to the program’s success included its early focus on IQ rather than motivational factors, deeply flawed but influential studies which indicated the program’s...
(The entire section is 300 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Head Start Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!