“I think fixing the school system starts with early childhood—and there’s just too much at stake,” says Marianne.
A Head Start preschool teacher in the Chicago area, Marianne was glad to hear of the steps President Obama took recently to bring more accountability to the program. Head Start has the critical mission of providing early education to children of low-income families.
“Each Head Start program has family service specialists who are responsible for medical and dental care for the children. And a lot of the kids come in to Head Start at risk economically and socially, so we screen them for language problems and social issues, which is huge—because if they start kindergarten with these problems, then they’re already behind.”
Last week, President Obama announced new measures to increase accountability and effectiveness in the Head Start program. Head Start preschools will now be reevaluated for funding based on measures like literacy development, the physical well-being of the students, and children’s social development.
“If you work in the private sector and you’re not doing your job, you’re history. And it should be the same way in education. We need people who can do the job, because this is the future of our country.”
Marianne sees how a successful Head Start program can make a huge difference in kids' lives:
“A lot of the kids come in not speaking, not even in their native language. They’re just silent. But you can see when they start to understand—they start smiling and laughing. Soon they’re saying words in their native language, and then next year they’ll come back chattering in English and completely opening up.
“When you see kids blossom in front of you, that’s what makes it worthwhile.”
Educators like Marianne know that we can’t wait to do our best for our kids. Why can’t you wait? Share your story.