Kids Not Cuts: Head Start cuts services for more than 57,000 children


by Colleen Flaherty

It’s been five months since Congress failed to prevent the reckless, across-the-board sequester cuts that cut billions from federal education funding. Now parents, educators and students are preparing to return to school and survey the damage.

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On Monday, Head Start, a federal program that provides preschool to low-income families, announced that services will be eliminated for more than 57,000 children, 1.3 million days will be cut from the school year calendars and 18,000 employees will be reduced.

Jason Hammonds has been a Head Start teacher since 2004 in Kentucky, where his program has been struggling for years.

“It is already difficult to get the help we need with our current budget. We will not be able to serve families that are in need of our program,” said Hammonds.

In addition to preschool, Head Start also supplies meals, transportation and basic medical care, all services that have been reduced or cut completely.

“I will never understand why low-income families and families with special needs continue to be among the first in line with cuts.”

Brianne Kiessling has been a Head Start teacher for 12 years in Ohio where services for over 2,700 children have been cut.

“I love the work I do with my preschoolers,” said Kiessling. “Yes, the cuts will affect me, but the ones that are going to hurt the most are the low-income 3- to 5-year-olds who have no choice in what happens in their young lives.”

It is easy for people like our congressmen to sit there and say, oh they don’t need that, it isn’t important. They have never spent the day in the life of a low-income preschooler.  The meals that we provide might be the only meal they get that day.  The education we provide is one that I know my colleagues and I work hard to provide to make sure that it is going to help prepare them for kindergarten.

Currently, President Obama has been pushing his plan to provide preschool for all children. However, this will not affect children this year nor address the other services Head Start provides for the 5.1 million children under the age of five living in poverty.

“I am not a Head Start teacher because of the money seeing as most of my co-workers can qualify for a lot of the programs that our parents can because of the lack of pay, but I do this for the children who deserve a fighting chance at a fair education,” said Kiessling.

“They don’t deserve to have a budget balanced on their backs because of stubborn and selfish politicians.”

Reader Comments

  1. Mike Beato wrote: The money you are referring to has already been earned, taxed and invested. Now we want to tax it again?
    This statement is just plain wrong. Capital gains taxes are levied upon gains only, not upon the entire amount realized from an asset sale which includes the initial capital investment.

    1. Ms Stern is correct in her explanation of the capital gains tax. Thank you. I just think we are asking the wrong questions. I doubt the cleaning woman was concerned with the millionaires tax rate. She was probably just happy to have a job. Why are we so sure the millionaire is not paying his fair share but never question the tax rate of the Union President making half million a year. ( I know, we think it is only three or four hundred grand, but with perks it’s five). No one complains that the Union President makes four times the salary a teacher makes. How many meals could we buy the poor with the hundreds we pay in dues each month. Do we really need to donate millions every year to the President and his friends. I don’t have the answers, but our country is in serious financial trouble. Something is going to get cut! When the demands of the cleaning woman become too great the milllionaire will clean his own office. How did the NEA get in the business of feeding the poor or training new parents or immigration reform? Who is watchiñg the Union? ” Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” The Goverment provides a safety net for the poor. Be content to have a job. At some point the tax payers will say ENOUGH and find a less expensive way to educate their children. Is Detroit coming to your home town?

  2. My thesis is Mr Baca doesn’t know anything about Federal Tax rates. You don’t really believe the millionaire and the cleaning woman pay the same rate. True, the capital gains tax is 15%. The money you are referring to has already been earned,taxed and invested. Now we want to tax it again? Real estate taxes also affect property values, maybe that is why your neighbors are concerned. The cleaning woman is paying little or no Federal Income taxes but plenty of real estate tax to fund teacher pensions. And Ms.Hollyfield it is not a crime to cut head start. It is a crime to not pay your real estate taxes. Have you checked the delinquency rates in our inner cities? There is nothing to indicate more money provides a better education. We are spending more now per student than ever before and fewer students are prepared for college than anytime in our history. Stop complaining

  3. In Nov, 2008, Huber Heights, Ohio voters passed an $82 million bond issue by 52 percent to 47 percent — to provid the school district with $84 million in matching funds to allow the school district be able to use its share of money from the state’s tobacco settlement. So Huber Heights has brand new schools; one High School, one Junior High School, and five Elementary Schools.
    Sounds like a great school district, right?. Wrong!! While the voters did vote to match the tobacco money to build new schools, the school district has failed to pass a levy for additional operating funds since May, 2005. Why?
    My thesis is that the severe income inequality in this country is the primary cause that the school levies fail to pass. The people see that the people, who rake in the dough do not pay their fair share in taxes. Why should the multi-millionaire pay at a lower tax rate than the cleaning woman who cleans his office? Is that fair or what?
    The school bond levy is the only tax available that the citizens of Huber Heights can do anything about so they vote it down; again and again and again.
    I am in my mid-seventies. Some of my neighbors are older. I hear, “I don’t have any kids in school. Why should I pay to educate other people’s kids?” When I try to explain that bad schools impact the value of their homes, it doesn’t register. I suspect that being on a fixed income is more important to them; they have only so much money available and they would rather spend it on themselves than give it to the schools.
    The solution is to eliminate the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich – and do away with the 15% tax on capital gains. It is time to tax capital gains as regular income. Income is income.
    If the Federal government does not step in and fund things like “Head Start”, the country is well on its way to becoming just another “Banana Republic”. If the country truly believes in “American Exceptionalism”, they better believe in investing in an educated workforce. They go together.

    1. I have no children, but when I looked for my house years ago, I wanted one in a town with a great school system. Why? Because people who care about their kids and thus, support their schools, care about the town as a whole. They volunteer in town to help with town initiatives for the betterment of all the citizens– and they vote. I am so proud of my town, and I have lived here since 1978.

  4. Denying families access to the support of Headstart is criminal–literally. Parents learn to be parents, and children get the support they need to learn.

    To deny them is like eating our seed corn–disastrous for the future.

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