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Reliving the History of Compensatory Education: Policy Choices, Bureaucracy, and the Politicized Role of Science in the Evolution of Head Start


by Barbara Beatty & Edward Zigler — 2012

In this article, Edward Zigler, interviewed by Barbara Beatty, talks about a turning point in the history of Head Start that reveals how policy choices, bureaucracy, and science came together when he was told to phase out the program in 1970. New to Washington, Zigler learned that President Richard M. Nixon’s domestic policy advisor Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who had put forth the Family Assistance Plan, favored direct support for mothers and families over compensatory preschool education. Zigler saw how both the methodologically flawed 1969 Westinghouse study on the supposed fadeout of Head Start gains and Arthur Jensen’s controversial 1969 article on the supposed failure of compensatory education became politicized and influenced arguments about Head Start’s future. With President Nixon’s veto of the 1971 Child Development Act, Zigler witnessed how competing policies, bureaucracies, and political ideologies could block support for universal child care and comprehensive services for children and families. After many years of consulting to Head Start and research on applied child development, he sees public schools as sites for coordination of social welfare programs that can improve access to high-quality health care, education, child care, and family services, as in his Schools for the 21st Century model.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 6, 2012, p. 1-10
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 16694, Date Accessed: 10/23/2014 3:53:41 PM

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About the Author
  • Barbara Beatty
    Wellesley College
    E-mail Author
    BARBARA BEATTY, professor of education, Wellesley College, is the author of Preschool Education in America: The Culture of Young Children from the Colonial Era to the Present and other publications on the history of preschool education and the relationship of psychology and education. She taught kindergarten in the Boston Public Schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  • Edward Zigler
    Yale University
    E-mail Author
    EDWARD ZIGLER, Sterling Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Emeritus Faculty, and Director, Emeritus, The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University, is the author of numerous publications in developmental psychology, applied developmental psychology, children’s policy, family policy, and education policy, and on the history of Head Start, which he directed from 1970 to 1972.
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