Last week, North Carolina Senator Richard Burr and four of his colleagues in the U.S. Senate sent a letter to Kathleen Sebelius to request that the Department of Health of Human Services (DHHS) release the “Third Grade Follow-Up Study” of Head Start. Researchers completed data collection in 2008, but DHHS announced that the agency would delay the release of the report until September 2012, a year later than originally scheduled.
University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene points out that DHHS delayed the release of the last Head Start study, which concluded that the average preschooler enrolled in the program received no lasting benefits from it. Greene, who is no Alex Jones type, observes,
If the government’s proclivity to delay the release of politically undesirable results and to manipulate — actually, completely distort – the findings is not enough to engender skepticism among reporters, researchers, and policymakers, I have no idea what will. But I continue to see reporters, researchers, and policymakers invoke government research as authoritative without the least bit of critical scrutiny.
Senator Burr and his colleagues should be commended for their critical scrutiny of the now-delayed Head Start study. Taxpayers deserve to know if their $8 billion investment in Head Start provides measurable and persistent gains for the 900,000+ children enrolled.