Federal

Head Start Renewal Back on the Agenda in New Congress

By Alyson Klein — January 09, 2007 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The education committees of both the House and the Senate expect to begin work early in the new Congress on a long-awaited reauthorization of the federal Head Start program, which is aimed at preparing disadvantaged preschool children for school. Both panels passed bills during the 109th Congress, crafted largely on a bipartisan basis, which called for greater accountability for Head Start grantees and higher professional standards for the program’s teachers.

But the Head Start Act, which was last renewed in 1998 and was due for reauthorization in 2003, has stalled partially because of a provision, included in the House version of the bill at the behest of some conservative Republicans, that would have allowed Head Start centers operated by religious groups to take faith into account in hiring.

Most House Democrats, including Rep. George Miller of California, who became the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee with the start of the 110th Congress last week, voted against the bill because of the provision on religion, calling it a violation of applicants’ civil rights. The version approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee did not include the contentious provision. It is highly unlikely to make it into the new version of the bill now that Democrats control both houses of Congress, Head Start advocates say.

A Senate Democratic aide said the new bill is likely to be similar to the measure that cleared the Senate education panel in 2005 with broad bipartisan support. That bill would have expanded eligibility for Head Start to more low-income families. It also would have increased accountability for Head Start centers, by requiring that programs that receive deficient ratings in their evaluations compete with other applicants for the federal grants.

Both the Senate and the House bills set a goal that 50 percent of Head Start teachers hold bachelor’s degrees. Right now, just over 30 percent of Head Start teachers have such degrees, according to the National Head Start Association, an advocacy group for Head Start staff members, programs, and students, based in Alexandria, Va.

Reporting System

Joel Ryan said that while the organization supports the 50 percent goal, he is worried that Head Start centers could have trouble meeting it, since their teachers are generally paid less than those in public schools. He said the association is working to ensure that the legislation is clear that Head Start centers not be penalized for failing to meet the 50 percent benchmark.

The House version of the legislation also included language aimed at halting the National Reporting System, an accountability measure for Head Start children, until the National Academy of Sciences develops what is deemed a more appropriate system for assessing those children. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., the new chairman of the Senate education committee, is likely to seek similar language when his panel considers the bill, a Senate Democratic aide said.

“We’re pleased that there will be bipartisan support for suspending the testing,” Mr. Ryan, the senior legislative strategist for NHSA, said. “It’s unfortunate that tax dollars are being wasted on an assessment that’s flawed.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 10, 2007 edition of Education Week as Head Start Renewal Back on the Agenda in New Congress

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
What is it About Math? Making Math Figure-Out-Able
Join Pam Harris for an engaging session challenging how we approach math, resulting in real world math that is “figure-out-able” for anyone.
Content provided by hand2mind
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Admin. Says New K-12 Agenda Tackles Absenteeism, Tutoring, Extended Learning
The White House unveiled a set of K-12 priorities at the start of an election year.
4 min read
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona participates in a roundtable discussion with students from Dartmouth College on Jan. 10, 2024, on the school's campus, in Hanover, N.H.
Steven Senne/AP
Federal Lawmakers Want to Reauthorize a Major Education Research Law. What Stands in the Way?
Lawmakers have tried and failed to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act over the past nearly two decades.
7 min read
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, as Starbucks founder Howard Schultz answers questions about the company's actions during an ongoing employee unionizing campaign, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., left, joins Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, at the Capitol in Washington, on March 29, 2023. The two lawmakers sponsored a bill to reauthorize the Education Sciences Reform Act.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Federal Will the Government Actually Shut Down This Time? What Educators Should Know
The federal government is once again on the verge of shutting down. Here's why educators should care, but shouldn't necessarily worry.
1 min read
Photo illustration of Capitol building and closed sign.
iStock
Federal Biden Admin. Warns Schools to Protect Students From Antisemitism, Islamophobia
The U.S. Department of Education released a "Dear Colleague" letter reminding schools of their obligation to address discrimination.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at the Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during an interview in his office at the U.S. Department of Education on Sept. 20, 2023 in Washington.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP