WMU News

Getting a handle on Head Start

Aug. 15, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- As Republicans and Democrats debate the future of Head Start, Western Michigan University experts in early childhood education say politicians should remain focused on teacher quality and student needs.

"Current research has shown that the level of teacher training is a key factor in program quality in early childhood education," says Dr. Regena Fails-Nelson, an associate professor of teaching, learning and leadership.

By 2008, Head Start preschool teachers will be required to have bachelor's degrees, and teacher aides must have an associate's degree. But pending legislation that offers to shift Head Start funding into the hands of state administrators may not mandate the increased teacher training. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has said she supports the federal guidelines, but the continued national debate over dollars and the program's effectiveness is cause for concern.

"There is hope in the early childhood education community that regulations for all child-care programs will be increased to the level of the Head Start guidelines," says Nelson.

Regena Fails-Nelson can be reached at (269) 387-3509 or <regena.fails.nelson@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Gail Towns, 269 387-8400, gail.towns@wmich.edu

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