Senators Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; and Rick Scott, R-Florida, introduced the Head Start Improvement Act. The sponsors say that the bill is designed to improve the Head Start program by eliminating bureaucracy and giving money directly to states through block grants.
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana, has sponsored companion legislation in the House.
Sponsors says that state and local governments are better equipped than the federal government to tailor education programs to meet the needs of the children they serve. They said in a statement that this legislation recognizes that reality and would empower parents, community leaders, and state and local officials to improve the outcomes of American children everywhere.
“From my decades of experience in education, I know the sooner young people have access to a quality education, the more successful they are,” Tuberville said. “This is especially true for kids who grow up in difficult circumstances and need the safety, security, and mentorship that quality education programs can provide. States are better equipped to serve students than the federal government, and we should direct funding to programs that have a demonstrated record of success. The effort to make quality early education accessible for all is a cause I am proud to fight for with my colleagues.”
“Underprivileged children need access to high-quality education, but the evidence shows that, in its current form, the Head Start program is failing to provide it,” Lee said. “Education reform should empower parents, principals, and teachers, instead of centralizing power and money in political bureaucracies. This bill would allow states, communities, schools, and families to better tailor pre-K programs to the specific needs of each eligible child.”
“If we refuse to reform Head Start, we’re really giving up on its original goal of helping America’s disadvantaged youth. Congress owes it to low-income children to fix Head Start,” Banks said. “Our bill would give states, local officials and parents greater control over Head Start. That will make the program more effective by better tailoring it to individual and community needs.”
“Glad to join Sen. Lee in introducing the Head Start Improvement Act today,” Inhofe said. “By changing the funding distribution of the Head Start program into block grants to the states, this bill would eliminate unnecessary federal bureaucracy and allow states like Oklahoma to better target these funds to the children and families who need them.”
Sen. Blackburn said: “Children deserve access to quality education but a one-size-fits-all government program benefits no one. Allowing states to determine how to best use Head Start funds will result in more students having access to higher quality education.”
“Every child deserves the opportunity to get a great education and pursue their dreams,” Scott said. “This bill helps ensure that states and local communities have access to streamlined and flexible resources that allow them to make education decisions that best meet the needs of their students.”
The Republican legislation will have a difficult time moving in Congress, with Democrats controlling both chambers.
Tuberville is in his first term in the U.S. Senate. Tuberville was a successful college football coach for decades, including as head football coach at Auburn University.