Some of the proposed changes in the House Bill to reform Head Start:
The $6.8 billion bill drops plans to transfer Head Start to the Education Department from the Department of Health and Human Services in what was probably the most visible signal of the new academic emphasis. The measure, however, would still require all Head Start teachers to have four-year college degrees by 2008.
The proposal would also scale back plans to permit states to take control of Head Start. Critics had contended that would lower the quality of Head Start and reduce the money available for children.
The federal administration of Head Start is now paid from a separate allotment. So essentially all the money that Congress appropriates for the program goes to the day care centers.
The bill now says that no more than eight states may take over Head Start in a demonstration project. Those states have to pledge not to reduce the number of children in the federal program and to provide services as extensive as the children now receive. The bill would also allow religion-based groups that run Head Start programs to consider religion in hiring, exempting them from antidiscrimination clauses in the bill.
The usual suspects are against the bill, and are actually being quite whiny:
On Wednesday, the National Head Start Association sued the Bush administration, saying it had violated First Amendment rights of Head Start providers. The administration has in recent weeks written to providers to warn them that the Hatch Act bars using federal money to lobby Congress. The Head Start Association accused the administration of trying to muzzle criticism.
“The bill would also allow religion-based groups that run Head Start programs to consider religion in hiring, exempting them from antidiscrimination clauses in the bill.”
You don’t see a HUMONGOUS problem with this? You want your tax dollars going to nursery schools that hire only Muslim teachers.
Oh, wait. It won’t be all Muslims; we know which religion is going to get the contracts. Never mind.
Actually, I have no problem with all Muslims teaching Head Start. All the Muslims I know personally have been great people. I must admit, I don’t know any of the whacky “fly planes into buildings/kill all Jews and American dogs” variety.
If Muslims wish to run their own preschools, that’s fine with me. (Our public school has at least one Muslim substitute teacher, and the sky didn’t fall in.) But the idea of government money flowing to a discriminatory institution (I don’t mean “discriminatory” because of doctrine like abortion or what not, but out of permission to use religious tests for employment at a government-funded institution) very unpleasant.