What: All Issues : Aid to Less Advantaged People, at Home & Abroad : America's Poor : Reauthorizing the Head Start program (H.R. 1439)/Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) amendment to require that 50 percent of Head Start teachers nationwide have bachelor's degrees by 2011 (2007 house Roll Call 280)
 Who: All Members : New York, District 2 : King, Pete
[POW!]
 
Reauthorizing the Head Start program (H.R. 1439)/Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) amendment to require that 50 percent of Head Start teachers nationwide have bachelor's degrees by 2011
house Roll Call 280     May 02, 2007
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Progressive Result
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This vote was on an amendment to legislation to reauthorize the Head Start program through fiscal 2012. Proposed by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) the amendment would require that 50 percent of Head Start teachers nationwide have bachelor's degrees by 2011.

The bill to which Mica was seeking to amend would authorize $7.4 billion in funding for fiscal 2008 and such sums as may be necessary through fiscal 2012 for the early-childhood program. This legislation would only approve the spending, and the actual money would come from a separate appropriations bill.

The underlying legislation would require that all Head Start teachers have a bachelor's or advanced degree in childhood education or related field by the end of fiscal 2013. Mica's amendment would move that date up two years. Currently, 38 percent of Head Start teachers meet this goal.

"Now, we've moved this program from what I called it 14 years ago, from a glorified babysitting program, to a program that is giving our students the opportunity for quality educational opportunity," Mica said. "And these young people, at this age, deserve the very best. They are coming from the very worst, the worst as far as disadvantage in our society, the worst as far as opportunity, as far as family setting, as far as their readiness for school."

Mica continued that there are more Head Start programs in Democrat districts than there are in Republican districts, "just by the sheer economics of it, the demographics." He asked what if he came with a proposal that said only 50 percent of kindergarten teachers in Democrat districts would need to have bachelor's degrees, "how would you like that?"

Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) responded that those who crafted the bill were trying to balance "the best we can do to increase the number of teachers with a B.A. degree in child education, child development and at the same time meet the other needs of the program. And to accelerate that effort on behalf of more teachers with an M.A. upsets that balance."

Miller said that tough choices were part and parcel of the measure's drafting. He gave the example that a million children are waiting to get into Head Start. He said someone could offer an amendment to put all of the Head Start funding into accommodating all children who are eligible. "Then you just reduce the quality and the availability to pay teachers to have them to stay. So this isn't a game where you can just pick out one part of the program and say, let's put the money there, and that's the reason why we did what we did."

Mica's amendment failed with a majority of Republicans supporting it and only one Democrat in favor. Thus, on a vote of 137 to 286, the House rejected an amendment to require 50 percent of all Head Start teachers to obtain bachelor's degrees or higher by 2011, and legislation to reauthorize the early-childhood program went forward with a requirement that the goal be met by 2013.

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