One of the most popular and enduring legacies of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society programs, Project Head Start continues to support young children of low-income families-close to one million annually-by providing a range of developmental and educational services. Yet as Head Start reaches its fortieth anniversary, debates over the function and scope of this federal program persist. Although the program's importance is unquestioned across party lines, the direction of its future—whether toward a greater focus on school readiness and literacy or the continuation of a holistic approach-remains a point of contention.
Policymakers proposing to reform Head Start often invoke its origins to justify their position, but until now no comprehensive political history of the program has existed. Maris A. Vinovskis here provides an in-depth look at the nation's largest and best known—yet politically challenged—early education program. The Birth of Head Start sets the record straight on the program's intended aims, documenting key decisions made during its formative years. While previous accounts of Head Start have neglected the contributions of important participants such as federal education officials and members of Congress, Vinovskis's history is the first to consider the relationship between politics and policymaking and how this interaction has shaped the program. This thorough and incisive book will be essential for policymakers and legislators interested in prekindergarten education and will inform future discussions on early intervention services for disadvantaged children.
Over the past thirty years, the government has spent approximately $1.5 billion on the Regional Educational Laboratories and $1.1 billion on the Research and Development Centers. After this large investment, these two research facilities still have been unable to find the best way to effectively help at-risk children thrive in school. Many people are slowly realizing that, unfortunately, our sizable investment in educational research and development has not been sufficient to produce the kind of information that policymakers and educators must have if they hope to meet the needs of these at-risk children.
Maris A. Vinovskis uses the research he has done over the past decade, along with the findings of other policymakers, to argue that the American public school system needs to gain functional reform if research institutions are to conduct more effective studies for policymakers. He examines here both recent reform policies as well as the history behind educational reform.
Vinovskis's vigorous investigation of the process of educational research and development in the United States will be of particular interest to individuals whose careers depend on continued federal funding. This book will also appeal to educators, policymakers, and public policy analysts and will be of unequaled value in understanding the formulation of new educational policies in the twenty-first century.
Maris A. Vinovskis is active on Capitol Hill and lectures throughout the country at such prestigious institutions as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Brookings Institution, and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is Professor of History, University of Michigan.
This collection of essays examines how the social sciences in America were developed as a means of social reform and later, especially after World War II, as a tool in federal policymaking and policy analysis. It also uses arenas of policymaking, such as early childhood education and welfare and its reform, as case studies in which social research was used, in policy decisions or in setting and evaluating policy goals. The book is written to aid students of public policy to appreciate the complex relationship of information--principally, of social science research--to policymaking at the federal level.
David L. Featherman is Professor of Sociology and Psychology, Director and Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. Maris A. Vinovskis is Bentley Professor of History, Senior Research Scientist, Institute for Social Research, Faculty member, School of Public Policy, University of Michigan.