Last Monday, President Barack Obama called upon Congress to help him pass education reforms by the next school year. Namely, his targets included fixing the No Child Left Behind Act as well as his opposition to the cutting of education spending, including that of Head Start; a program aimed at getting poor children starting pre-school and preparing them for kindergarten in the next year.
The No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2002, was the subject of many a debate, from its affect upon standardized testing to how its enactment affected students in low-performing schools in low-income neighborhoods. The law judged schools depending on their performances and if they scored below the proper standards (as was enacted), those schools’ funding would be cut. While the law is in definite need to be fixed, what would certainly add insult to injury would be the cutting of programs like Head Start and funding to National Public Broadcasting (whose repertoire includes the showing of the program Sesame Street). As is well known, pre-kindergarten education is among the most crucial area of development in a child’s life; and for children living in poverty, that opportunity of learning and growth passes them by. After all, it has been told over and over that a good education was the ultimate ticket to getting a good job and being a viable part to the growth of this nation’s economy. Henceforth, with that theory in mind, to those living below the poverty line, it would meaning a breaking of a vicious cycle that could end up handicapping many for generations to come. So why should opportunity be selective to whose door it knocks if many are willing to grasp at it?
Perhaps what is more enlightening is the fact that Head Start provides an effective child care to the parents who struggle daily in this economy. That being the case, it leads working-class families to be able to work more hours and increase their salaries, thereby providing a better life for their children. Their minds can be at ease because not only are their children in safe hands, but they are also learning valuable skills that will be helpful to them in the later schemes of life in a classroom. Not being able to afford a formal pre-school shouldn’t make one’s children any less qualified for obtaining the education that would allow them to achieve what we know as the American Dream. Cutting a significant program that was a legacy of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty would only mean stagnation and endless contradiction for a nation whose principal ideology is the “pursuit of happiness” for all men who were “created equal”.