Big Changes Proposed for Head Start and Candidate Clinton Backs Universal Preschool

Early learning is playing on the national stage this week, with a new and dramatic proposal to change Head Start, and presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsing universal preschool.

Under the new plan from the Office of Head Start, the federal preschool system would move to longer days and a longer year, the Associated Press reports: six-hour days for 180 days a year.

These changes are part of the proposed “first holistic revision and complete reorganization of the Head Start Program Performance Standards since they were originally published in 1975,” the Office of Head Start said on its website. The changes are not final, however, and the public has 60 days to offer feedback.

Big changes to Head Start are big news for the early learning community because the 50-year-old program is at the heart of the nation’s early education system. It served as a model for Washington state’s preschool program, the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, and currently serves more than 15,000 students throughout the state. These proposed changes will clearly spark a lot of discussion about its future.

Presidential hopeful Clinton already jumped into the discussion earlier this week, proposing a big increase in spending on Head Start as an early part of her campaign platform, Education Week reports.

She says she wants to “double” the nation’s investments in Early Head Start and Head Start.
“Universal Prekindergarten on Hillary Clinton’s Wish List,” Early Years blog, 6/16/15.

Clinton also endorsed universal preschool, according to news reports.

“I’ve been a champion for early childhood education for as long as I can remember … and that’s why I’m putting this front and center in my campaign — because I think it’s time we realize once and for all that investing in our children is one of the best investments our country can make,” Clinton was quoted on her campaign’s Facebook page.

Given early education’s higher profile these days and the fact that politicians from both parties have endorsed investments in this area, it will be interesting to see how the issue plays on the presidential campaign trail.

Stay tuned.


Toddlers May Be More Empathetic Than You Think

A new study found that children have a relatively complex understanding of emotions by the time they are 2 years old, NPR reports.


They seem willing … to give stoic people the benefit of the doubt; they understand that overt sadness is appropriate after a negative experience, but also understand that a neutral response doesn’t necessarily mean a person is untrustworthy.
“What Babies Understand About Adult Sadness.” Shots Health News from NPR. 6/12/15.