EdAction Alert -- June 20, 2005

Alert Congress Before Head Start Increases Federal Nanny State

Head Start, HR 2123

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        Continuing to assume the right and constitutional authority that it does not have, the federal government is extending its illegitimate takeover of K-12 education downward to the birth to five age range with the reauthorization of Head Start, HR 2123. The bill makes some invalid assumptions, such as:

        The failure of Head Start and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB) despite 40 years and untold billions of dollars; the failure of any preschool programs to show more than temporary academic gains; the proliferation of radical, minimum competency non-academic standards in every state that just happen to be nearly identical; and the frightening increase in the psychiatric labeling and drugging of children with ineffective and dangerous medications should amply show these assumptions lack of validity.
        Although HR 2123 makes some important improvements in financial accountability and some impressive strides towards parental rights, and although it was likely drafted with good intentions, it has some very dangerous provisions. 

        HR 2123, soon to be heard on the floor of the U.S. House, does the following: 

1.  Implements radical curriculum standards for preschoolers in every state.
        Head Start has published a Head Start Child Outcomes Framework, heavily influenced by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which is known for its controversial early learning credentialing system. (See "Child Care Credentialing and NAEYC's Anti-Bias Curriculum.")

        HR 2321 requires states to align their Head Start programs with either the radical Head Start Child Outcomes or with their own state early learning curriculum standards, many of which are also based on this same Head Start/NAEYC Framework. Curriculum standards for preschoolers in individual states are then applied to other state programs. In this way, Head Start sets the norm for what will eventually be required of all children. The Head Start Outcomes become part of a seamless system of controversial government required standards from birth through twelfth grade.

  The Head Start Outcomes do the following:

2.  Extends No Child Left Behind standards and testing to preschoolers.
        HR 2321 requires Head Start to be aligned with NCLB content standards.and its assessments. State standards and assessments under NCLB have become dumbed down, non-academic, indoctrinating outcomes that states have adopted based on national standards (federal curriculum). Significant opposition has developed against extending NCLB to high school. Extending them to the nations youngest and most vulnerable children makes even less sense than extending NCLB to high shcool. (See next point, below). 

3.  Extends curriculum standards to all children via state and local integration.
        This aligned system of standards and programs is not just for poor, at-risk children, but rather for all children due to this required integration on the local and state levels with public preschool programs, and it will eventually force faith based programs to teach Head Start curriculum standards. As described above, some of these curriculum standards are very radical, and would be contrary to their philosophy. The result would be to force faith based programs out of Head Start or out of business altogether.

4.  Continues the role of government in the mental health of very young children and their families. 
        HR 2321 re-inserts mental and behavioral health care into Head Start. These diagnostic criteria for mental disorders are extremely vague and subjective, as admitted by the US Surgeon General, the World Health Organization, and many psychiatric textbook authors.They are extremely difficult to accurately apply to young children. As a result of the New Freedom Commission recommendations for screening and drugging, this emphasis on mental health for very young children will result in increased screening and psychiatric drugging of infants and toddlers with drugs admitted to be ineffective and dangerous for children. (See here for details) 

        The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is to be highly commended for their commitment to protecting the fundamental right of parental consent for health services and screening, similar to language in the The Parental Consent Act, HR 181.  It is also very important to prevent coercive drugging. The Child Medication Safety Act (CMSA), HR 1790, does that and should be included in Head Start. CMSA is a legislative priority for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), because they are concerned about disproportionate identification and drugging of minority youth.  One would assume that this concern would extend to minority toddlers and their families.

We need your help
        EdAction is now alerting you, our subscribers, to urge you to give your own Members of Congress urgent notice that the Head Start re-authorization must be amended to address these concerns before it passes out of the House of Representatives.  With the help of Citizens for Health, we have developed an e-action alert to help you contact your Member of Congress about the dangers of the Head Start bill.  Just click here to contact House Members to urge them to support amendments that will do the following:

1) Stop the required alignment of Head Start to the state content standards of NCLB, state early learning standards, and / or the national Head Start Outcomes so that the radical worldview of these standards will not be imposed on our youngest, most vulnerable children;

2)  Remove the newly required integration of Head Start with every state public preschool program;

3)  Remove requirements for social and emotional teaching;

4)  Make it absolutely clear that any mental health screening requires informed, written consent, and that coerced screening or drugging of children is prohibited

To follow up with a phone call or fax, find your U.S. House Member contact information here. Thank you.
DISCLAIMER: EdAction thanks Citizens for Health for their support and for the use of this action alert to contact Congress on this important issue.  The views and programs endorsed by Citizens for Health on their website are not necessarily those of EdAction. If you are not interested in receiving health information from Citizens for Health at this time, please be sure to uncheck the box that offers it that is just beneath the contact information you provide.

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