If sequestration spending cuts go into effect, President Obama claims that “[o]ur ability to teach our kids the skills they’ll need for the jobs of the future would be put at risk…70,000 young children would be kicked off Head Start, 10,000 teacher jobs would be put at risk, and funding for up to 7,200 special education teachers, aides, and staff could be cut.”
The Obama Administration incorrectly argues that any cuts to the education budget would come at the expense of teacher jobs or special needs funding. That is incorrect. No federal education program operated by the Department of Education directly funds teacher salaries—this is a state and local responsibility. Further, there are a multitude of ineffective and duplicative programs that could—and should—be cut, saving billions of dollars annually and restoring state and local education decision-making authority.
One program—Head Start— is not working. Taxpayers have spent more than $180 billion on this program since it began in 1965; it currently costs $8 billion a year. According to a recent evaluation by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), taxpayers’ return on that “investment” is nothing to applaud. This and previous studies found that Head Start:
•Had “little to no effect on cognitive, social-emotional, health, or parenting outcomes” for participating children that reach the third grade;
•Failed to have an effect on 69 out of 71 socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes for participating four-year-olds; and
•Failed to have an effect on 66 of the 71 socio-emotional, health, and parenting outcomes for participating three-year-olds.