Early-Childhood Education Column

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The federal Chapter 1 program should be redirected toward providing more support services for disadvantaged children in the early grades, an architect of Head Start has concluded.

Edward Zigler, a professor of psychology and the director of the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University, criticizes the federal remedial-instruction program for disadvantaged youths in a book to be published in March by the Yale University Press.

In remarks at the Bush Center this month, Mr. Zigler said the $6.1 billion program enjoys strong support mainly because "it has become a subsidy for local schools.''

Chapter 1 has resulted in only slight student-achievement gains, he argued, and has had no impact on long-term outcomes like graduation rates.

"Chapter 1 services are simply too narrow a solution to the multiple problems that interfere with poor children's learning,'' Mr. Zigler said. "Drilling academic skills into children who live in grueling environments is an exercise doomed to fail.''

He also faulted Chapter 1 programs that instruct students in groups away from regular classrooms and contended that program funds are spread too thin.

Mr. Zigler said Head Start, which offers preschool children education, health, social, and family-support services and stresses parental involvement, is far more effective. He recommended targeting Chapter 1 to poor children in the early grades and merging it with the Head Start Transition Project, a new grant program that extends Head Start into grades K-3.

Eleven major corporations have launched a joint effort with more than 130 firms and public and private organizations to commit $25.4 million for child- and elder-care projects.

The announcement this month fleshed out a proposal that had long been under discussion and was first reported in July. (See Education Week, Aug. 5, 1992.)

The American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care, spearheaded by such firms as the International Business Machines Corporation, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, and Johnson & Johnson, will fund 300 projects in 44 communities in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

The collaborative, the largest of its kind, is aimed at attracting a more "productive, motivated workforce'' and helping workers balance work and family. Projects will include training, developing new centers, and arranging care during school vacations. The largest share--42 percent--of the projects involve school-age child care.

For more information, contact Work/Family Directions, 930 Commonwealth Ave. South, Boston, Mass. 02215; (800) 253-5264, ext. 4283.--D.C.

Vol. 12, Issue 03

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