Empowerment and Education: Civil Rights, Expert-Advocates, and Parent Politics in Head Start 1964-1980

Teachers College Record, Vol. 104, No. 3, pp. 516-562, 2002

47 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2008  

Josh Gupta-Kagan

University of South Carolina School of Law

Abstract

Much has been written about Head Start in the form of evaluations of the program's effectiveness, but little unbiased work about the program's politics has emerged. This essay asks how Head Start has survived and even thrived over thirty-five years when other Great Society programs have died. To answer this question, it explores the coalition that emerged between civil rights activists, intellectuals studying child development and social programs for children, and community action embodied in Great Society legislation. The essay traces the development of Head Start out of the emerging academic interest in "compensatory education for cultural depravation" and the New Left's desire to build a movement focused on civil rights and community action. These two groups, united in their support for Head Start and for broader reform of public education, fought over its treatment of parents of children enrolled in the program. However, neither side could correctly predict how parents actually experienced Head Start or how parents helped to ensure Head Start's political survival.

Suggested Citation

Gupta-Kagan, Josh, Empowerment and Education: Civil Rights, Expert-Advocates, and Parent Politics in Head Start 1964-1980. Teachers College Record, Vol. 104, No. 3, pp. 516-562, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1120064

Josh Gupta-Kagan (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina School of Law ( email )

Main & Greene Streets
Columbia, SC 29208
United States

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