Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Vouchers Enter Head Start Debate

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Vouchers Enter Head Start Debate

Article excerpt

Washington UPDATE: Vouchers Enter Head Start Debate

Congressional Republicans are pushing a favorite education issue -- vouchers -- to a new potential source: the usually popular Head Start program.

A bill approved by the House of Representatives' education panel would give parents certificates to choose their own preschool program if their Head Start agency loses funding because of mismanagement or poor performance. Approximately 100 Head Start agencies already have lost grants for such reasons. The House bill also would stiffen requirements and standards for grantees.

The provision is one of several hotly contested issues in a Head Start reauthorization bill -- legislation that normally skirts controversy because of the program's popularity. But Republicans have called for more accountability in the program, claiming there is little recent research on the program's effectiveness.

"It's sad that the reauthorization of Head Start is not a bipartisan one," said Rep. Matthew Martinez (D-Calif.), a nine-term lawmaker who helped direct Congress' last review of the program in 1994.

However, conservative critics of Head Start have identified vouchers as a potential issue to weed out poor-quality agencies. …

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