Administration officials are defending their plan to revamp Head Start. It would give states greater flexibility in running the 38-year-old program for preschoolers.
The associate commissioner of the Head Start Bureau told a Senate panel that the administration isn't looking "to dilute or dismantle" the current program. Windy Hill says the goal is to enhance the existing program.
The administration wants to give a handful of states the option of taking over Head Start programs that are now directed by the federal government. They could then blend them with existing state-financed preschool programs.
Critics say the plan would leave states unaccountable to federal performance standards for Head Start. They worry that a declining federal role will lower the standards, and that the program will lose its comprehensive mission of health, nutrition and parental involvement.
The House could vote later this week on the administration proposal.