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Obama's Budget Scalpel Slices Even Start

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President Obama's budget to be released Thursday will propose eliminating the $66 million Even Start family literacy program, which apparently hasn't done very well on performance evaluations.

Advocates for early childhood education shouldn't take this to mean that Obama doesn't care about their issue, White House aides were quick to point out.

"The President's commitment to early childhood education is well known," a senior White House aide told reporters on a conference call earlier today. "We're not going to hold back on eliminating programs simply because of their intentions."

Obama might have an uphill battle on this one. President Bush also tried to scrap the program, but its congressional champions keep restoring the funding. Will those folks have more qualms about bucking a Democratic President instead of a Republican? We'll see.

Even Start is just one of some 120 programs that are slated for the chopping block in tomorrow's budget proposal. Top administration aides said the reductions will save $17 billion, which sounds like a lot of money, but really isn't in the context a $3.5 trillion budget.

Aides mentioned just one other Education Department that they've decided is extraneous: that attaché to Paris we've already mentioned. Apparently, the White House agrees with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that video-conferencing to Paris will work just as well.

My guess is there are at least a few more Education Department programs on the chopping block (the $8.8 million Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners Program comes to mind).

But we won't know for sure until Thursday.

UPDATE: The $7 million Javits Gifted and Talented Education program is slated for elimination in Obama's budget. The Office of Management and Budget justified the decision, saying that the grants only go out to 15 school districts. Bush also tried to slash that program, but had no luck.

6 Comments

Our even Start experience has been very successful but even that statement is difficult to support with the hard data that people want to justify the expense of teaching young women and their children. I know we graduate students who might never have done so and provide a safe and stimulating environment for their babies. I guess I need to ehar from those who say it is not working and what criteria they are using.

Obama is wrong on this one, as he has been on his foreign policy issues. He understans neither.
I am an educator with 20 years of federal programming experience and have seen tremendous success implementing Even Start. I wondered if he consulted Even Start parents? Oh I forgot, they cannot not vote.

I have been a director of an Even Start Family Literacy Program for eight years. The successes are incredible and we have the data to back up this statement. It is too bad that a flawed national evaluation keeps putting this exceptional program on the chopping block.

I have been an activist and supporter of President Obama since his run for Senate (and I'm from California); however, I am EXTREMELY disappointed in this decision. I work for an Even Start Teen Family Program and I see the immediate successes of our families that may not be tallied on a statistical data sheet. I'm positive that without Even Start many of our young families would not reach many of their goals (academically, socially, or as parents) if it were not from the empowerment that they receive from being a part of our Even Start Family (program).

Please re-think this decision!

I have suppported Obama on many items, but I'm not going to on this one. I work as a reading coord. at an Even Start building. I have seen the growth and the benefits of what the program does! There are too many other programs that could be cut instead of this one....hmmmm

The Even Start program that I have been associated with for the last 10 years has taken so many of the families in our community from the low income level, dependent on government aide to that of a two income, educated involved in community and school activities family. The preschool children of these families are successful students because of the early intervention services they have received. Many of our adult graduates now work for our school district as bilingual employees. If this program has not shown success, why do we have 60+ families on our program's waiting list?
Our program has exceeded the statd adult education goals for years. This is the REAL data.

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