Federal Federal File

Starting Point

By Michelle R. Davis — April 04, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Although Channell B. Wilkins may be walking into the lion’s den as the new leader of the federal Head Start preschool program, he seems cool as a cucumber.

Mr. Wilkins, the executive director of the New Jersey Community Action Association, will start April 17 as an associate commissioner in the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families and as the chief of the ACF’s Head Start Bureau. He was appointed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt.

He said in an interview that he was looking forward to learning about the bureau and providing “fresh eyes and enthusiasm.”

The job proved to be a contentious one for his predecessor, Windy Hill, who left the Health and Human Services Department last June after coming under attack by the very vocal National Head Start Association. The Alexandria, Va.-based advocacy group represents Head Start parents and teachers.

The $6.8 billion Head Start program helps prepare poor children for kindergarten.

Ms. Hill was often critical of local Head Start programs across the country; the NHSA returned the fire by lobbing political grenades in her direction. The group accused her of inappropriate conduct in her previous job as the director of a local Head Start program in Texas, saying she had improperly accepted bonus money while there and later used her federal position to try to quell an investigation into her leadership of the Texas program. Ms. Hill denied the charges. An HHS inspector general’s report on the matter has not been made public.

Mr. Wilkins said he wasn’t familiar with the relationship between Ms. Hill and the NHSA. He said he sees his role, at least initially, as that of listener and observer. He hopes to act as a “management troubleshooter,” a role he has played in past positions with a variety of New Jersey human-services organizations.

But Sarah Greene, the president of the NHSA, said she already has concerns about Mr. Wilkins, who has never administered a local Head Start program.

“That does bring about concern, not just from me, but from the entire Head Start community,” Ms. Greene said. “To have someone in that capacity provide guidance, you can’t help but wonder what is the thinking here.”

The new appointee declined to comment.

Welcome to Washington, Mr. Wilkins.

A version of this article appeared in the April 05, 2006 edition of Education Week

Events

Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.
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
Curriculum Webinar
STEM Fusion: Empowering K-12 Education through Interdisciplinary Integration
Join our webinar to learn how integrating STEM with other subjects can revolutionize K-12 education & prepare students for the future.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way

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 Opinion Federal Education Reform Has Largely Failed. Unfortunately, We Still Need It
Neither NCLB nor ESSA have lived up to their promise, but the problems calling for national action persist.
Jack Jennings
4 min read
Red, Blue, and Purple colors over a fine line etching of the Capitol building. Republicans and Democrats, Partisan Politicians.
Douglas Rissing/iStock
Federal A More Complete Picture of Immigration's Impact on U.S. Public Schools
House Republicans say a migrant influx has caused "chaos" in K-12 schools. The reality is more complicated.
10 min read
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Federal Explainer What Is Title IX? Schools, Sports, and Sex Discrimination
Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is undergoing changes. What it is, how it works, and how it's enforced.
2 min read
In this Nov. 21, 1979 file photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to get their support in the next election.
In this Nov. 21, 1979, photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington at an event where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to win their support in the next election.
Harvey Georges/AP
Federal Donald Trump's Conviction: 3 Takeaways for Educators
The conviction gives educators a backdrop to discuss elections, the judicial system, and how to evaluate biases.
4 min read
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024. The jury convicted him on all counts.
Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP