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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