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Let's get a Head Start on revising programs

FEDERAL budget cuts mean a 5 percent cut in the Head Start program in the state. Advocates of the program say this will cost 80 jobs and space for as many as 461 children in West Virginia

Proponents framed the cut as a slash, but the 5 percent reduction is less than the 7.5 percent budget cut most state agencies made last year and may have to make again this year.

At a protest rally last week, organizers arranged empty chairs to represent the 461 fewer funding slots for children.

"It's a picture for us, but it's a reality for other people," Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said at the rally. "Our children do not have a party affiliation. They're children."

But problems also provide opportunities. West

Virginia may use this situation as a way to improve education for the Head Start pupils.

The cuts in the Head Start funding do not necessarily mean the end of schooling for children from impoverished backgrounds.

Head Start provides pre-schooling to children ages 3 to 5.

But West Virginia just opened full-schooling to

children as young as 4, which means most Head Start students can be in an actual school. Surely there is no better head start to school than by attending school.

Officials need to sort out this apparent redundancy. The last thing taxpayers need is to have two publicly funded programs competing for people to help.

While facing federal budget cuts, perhaps officials could be working to eliminate the overlap.

The fight to maintain Head Start funding at a certain level in perpetuity is not the same as helping children.

But that sadly is not how the government often works. Many agencies fight to keep every penny of their budgets even if saving taxpayers money would better help the agency achieve its mission.

Here's hoping Head Start does not operate that way.


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