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["the chatter of a missionary sysadmin"]

question-begging recursion

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Head-hurting question-begging by the (R) Congresscritter arguing for Head Start state-run pilots programs: 'Head Start needs to be improved, needs to do better for our children -- these kids are some of the worst performers on tests, showing only about 21st percentile in readiness for school -- that's compared to 50th percent, which is average.'


Err, "duh", as we like to say in 'Murka. Of course these kids are underprepared for school: That's the whole point of the program's existence. Paraphrase of the Congresscritter's remarks: 'These needy, disadvantaged kids have serious needs and are disadvantaged.' Huh. You think so, Bubba?

And of course the average is 50th percentile. Think about it a minute...

Frankly, though like most consrvatively-inclined folks, I'm broadly disposed to ratchet down the nationa/federal bureaucracy in favor of local control, free-marketeering, and private initiative, and all that, I'm frankly conservative enough to prefer a working inconsistency to a purely hypothetical benefit. Head Start works; even all the Republicans pretty much agree that it does what it's supposed to, and is worth pumping federal tax dollars into. So what's the rationale for turning over control to the states of a nicely standardized program with a known good configuration? Especially for an admittedly experimental subset with loose controls? Thinking as a sysadmin, if somebody offers to replace my stodgy working mail server with one they're going to build, and I'm promised "it'll be just like the old one only faster, and for the same cost", I smell snake oil.

Assessing a program designed to aid a below-average population, and criticizing it for having a below-average population in its stats, is amazingly dumb. Is there any reasonable expectation that this program can get more than half its target set to be above average? Even if it succeeds perfectly in giving every opportunity to this set of kids, who could possibly expect more than 50% of them to be above average?

Answer: Any politician with something to gain.

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