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U.S. House Committee Solicits Comments for Head Start Act Rewrite

Cross-posted from Politics K-12

By Alyson Klein

The U.S. Senate education panel might be ready to rumble on a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the House is expected to follow suit. But it's clear that K-12 isn't the only thing on lawmakers' minds: The House education committee kicked off the new Congress with some background proposals for revising the Head Start Act.

The white paper was put forth by the committee Wednesday, the day after President Barack Obama made a pitch for helping parents cover the cost of child care in his State of the Union address

It outlines the panel's principles for revising the Head Start Act, which last got a face-lift in 2007. They include: reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens, encouraging local innovation, boosting coordination between Head Start and state and local programs, improving the quality of eligible providers, and enhancing parental engagement to support children's best interests. The committee is also accepting suggestions and comments through June 1 at [email protected].

In making its recommendations, the committee cited a Government Accountability Office report showing that the feds currently operate 45 different programs aimed at early childhood education.

It also cited a 2012 federal study of the Head Start program that showed the program's impact largely dissipated by the third grade. Critics, however, said the study didn't take into account factors that were likely to have a big impact on student results, such as how much time they spent in Head Start classrooms and the quality of those programs.

"Congress has a responsibility to ensure this investment is meeting the needs of the vulnerable families we aim to serve, while balancing the interests of taxpayers," Kline said in a statement.

Head Start is a 50-year-old program that has been through a lot of changes in its long life, as I wrote about in a feature piece in August. 

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