Durbin Speaks Out Against Budget Cuts to Early Childhood Education

The senator travels to Aurora to protest a proposed $1.1 billion cut to Head Start's funding.

Note: To see video of Sen. Durbin reading to Head Start students, click "View Gallery" to the right.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, made the trip to Aurora Wednesday morning to speak out against budget cuts that threaten Head Start programs in Illinois.

Speaking at Two Rivers Head Start Agency, Durbin said the cuts—part of the Fiscal Year 2011 Appropriations Bill, passed by the House last month—could potentially leave 218,000 low-income children without early childhood education next year, and cause more than 16,000 Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms to close their doors nationwide.

In Illinois, that would mean roughly 9,000 three-to-five-year-olds would lose access to early childhood classes, offered at affordable rates for families struggling to make ends meet. It would also mean the loss of up to 2,000 jobs. To Durbin, that would be a disastrous choice.

“We have one chance with a child to do it right,” Durbin said. “If we miss that opportunity, their lives change forever. Our lives change forever.”

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner joined him in speaking out: “If we want to be competitive, (Head Start) is exactly the type of program we should be trying to enhance, not to cut,” he said.

The proposed appropriations bill would cut education programs by nearly $4.9 billion, according to Durbin, and eliminate $1.1 billion from Head Start’s funding for 2011. And local Head Start programs need “every penny” of that money to make their budgets work, said Diane Lacey, executive director of Two Rivers Head Start.

Two Rivers operates agencies as far north as Elgin, and as far south as Morris. The Aurora center serves 225 kids and their families (and Two Rivers facilities serve more than 300 in Aurora), with a further 100 on a waiting list, Lacey said. The Yorkville center serves 51, with five more waiting in line.

And both centers offer half-day and full-day classes, to allow working parents to leave their children in Head Start’s care. Lori Morrison-Frichtl, executive director of the Illinois Head Start Agency, said Head Start programs offer more than education—they involve parents at every level, and provide assistance and counseling for them as well.

“I understand the need to cut unnecessary and wasteful spending,” she said, “but before we cut programs like Head Start, we need to convince Congress that there is nothing more important than our children’s future.”

Fabian Guerrero of Aurora would agree. He has sent his three kids through Two Rivers Head Start. His oldest, Fabian Jr., now 12, experienced Attention Deficit Disorder, he said, but with the help of the teachers at Two Rivers, he’s now one of the top students in his middle school.

His youngest son, Yair, now 7, had difficulty learning at a young age. It was Head Start professionals who discovered the reason why: he had a hearing problem, which was affecting his ability to understand his teachers. A few visits to a specialist, and Yair is now impressing his second-grade teachers, and reading at a fourth-grade level.

And Guerrero’s daughter, Yaretzi, four years old, is a current student at Two Rivers Head Start. The classes have done wonders for his daughter, Guerrero said, and the thought that Head Start could lose its federal funding distresses him.

“If we cut this, and the kids fall behind, what happens to them?” he said. “If we don’t start early, it’s hard for them to get a real education in high school.”

Congressman Randy Hultgren, R-Wheaton, voted for the appropriations bill. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The Senate has not yet voted on the bill.

While at Two Rivers Head Start, Durbin stopped in on one of the classrooms and read aloud a book called “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear,” much to the delight of the 13 students in the class. They clapped, made animal noises when prompted, and laughed and smiled through the entire thing.

 “That was a good story, wasn’t it?” Durbin asked when he was finished, and the kids cheered back at him.

Jay April 02, 2011 at 07:00 PM
So Matt, since your position is that because I posted information that was provided by the Heritage Foundation, who in your opinion are a 'partisan think tank', maybe we should just stick to what the New York Times has published about Head Start. "a look inside the stimulus package reveals that “change” mostly means spending vastly more on domestic programs without necessarily improving the way they operate. Nowhere is this clearer than in its provisions concerning education, particularly Head Start" "Head Start and similar prekindergarten programs could truly help disadvantaged children, but many studies have shown that Head Start, as it is now managed, is failing them. In 1998, Congress required the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct the first rigorous national evaluation of the program. The Clinton administration took this mandate seriously and initiated a 383-site randomized experiment involving about 4,600 children. Confirming previous research, the study found that the current program had little meaningful impact.
Jay April 02, 2011 at 07:00 PM
For example, even after spending six months in Head Start, 4-year-olds on average could identify only two more letters than children from similar backgrounds not in the program; 3-year-olds could identify one and a half more letters. More important, no gains at all were detected in more vital measures like early math learning, oral comprehension (very indicative of later reading comprehension), motivation to learn or “social competencies” like the ability to interact with peers and teachers. Researchers aren’t the only ones who see that the program is slumping — so do parents. From 1997 to 2004, even as Congress gave Head Start enough money to increase enrollment by 22 percent, the number of children in the program increased by only 2 percent. So many poor families now use other programs that Head Start has, for all practical purposes, run out of poor 4-year-olds to serve. Rather than try to make the program more attractive to families, Head Start advocates persuaded Congress in late 2007 to raise the income eligibility ceiling, from essentially the poverty line to 130 percent of poverty. Lack of money is not the problem: to keep a child in Head Start full-time, year-round, costs about $22,600, as opposed to an average cost of $9,500 in a day care center. And that’s the big failing of the stimulus bill. In area after area, it does not require any real change in return for vast piles of money"
Jay April 02, 2011 at 07:03 PM
"Throwing money at the program without demanding reforms will not help children" Surely a liberal like yourself won't discount the good folks at the New York Times. The program isn't working Matt, and it's costing the taxpayers billions and billions of dollars, and all Durbin wants to do is throw more money at it. More money isn't the solution. Why you felt that my previous position was indefensible is beyond reason. I have the facts to back it up, it's the Governments own study.
Matt Walker April 02, 2011 at 11:05 PM
Jay, You must not hold a very high opinion of yourself. First you cut and paste opinions from the Heritage Foundation and now you cut and paste from the New York Times. Are you not able to sit down, read the study yourself, and formulate your own conclusions? Must you constantly regurgitate the opinions of others? Are you not able to hear the stories of people who have posted here about the good that Head Start programs have accomplished? Like I said before, it is very obvious from your postings where you stand politically, and more importantly, where you stand morally. As far as the "liberal" designation, the fact that you think Dwight D. Eisenhower was a liberal has already shown everybody with any grounding in history that you're off the reservation when it comes to the ability to classify people within your self-constructed "left-right paradigm". And for the record, I don't read the New York Times. The New York Times, much like the Heritage Foundation, is a propaganda machine. I don't care much for those who parrot talking points, be those talking points of the "left" or the "right". They tend to mistake "opinion" for "fact", much like you do in your posts about the Head Start programs.
Chrisi Vineyard April 09, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Hultgren stated to me in an email, he has a mandate. Hultgren is about extremist ideological riders that have nothing to do with the deficit. The Republicans are wrong in trying to move toward deficit reduction solely on the backs of working families and the middle class – cutting education and head start, cutting community health centers, cutting the social security administration, cutting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas, and other important programs. Big business, & the wealthiest people in our country are doing extremely well. They need to contribute toward deficit reduction. Hultgren is a Tea Repub, Glenn Beck supporter, their issue, vendetta, ideology is and always has been about defunding the EPA, & women’s healthcare, and more! Republicans were prepared to shut-down the government over the funding of women’s health care, which saves only $330 million, but targets much needed services for low-income families, such as preventative healthcare and cancer screenings is totally absurd! Call his office 202-225-2976 & 630-232-7104 Of course we need to reduce the deficit, but there are smarter ways to do it than shutting down our economy and infrastructure.
Matt Walker April 09, 2011 at 06:58 PM
The Planned Parenthood talking points are absolutely absurd. Their business is abortion. Everything else is geared toward pushing their "clients" toward abortion. To call them a "healthcare provider" is silly. The only reason the Democratic Party is defending them is because Planned Parenthood is a big campaign contributor. As far as Randy Hultgren, were you aware he voted against extending the Patriot Act? I notice that President Obama signed it. I also note that President Obama continues to wage war in Afghantistan and Iraq, and has now signed us up for another quagmire in Libya. Did I also mention that President Obama has continued the practice of extraordinary renditions? So before you go casting stones, you might want to step outside of your glass house.
Jane Enviere April 09, 2011 at 07:43 PM
Gee, I guess all the women I've known over the years who have received birth control and pelvic exams at Planned Parenthood were delusional. No one is denying that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services -- a legal option, last time I checked. But not every woman who goes through their doors and puts her feet into the stirrups is there to terminate a pregnancy. It's disingenuous, and insulting, to suggest otherwise.
Matt Walker April 09, 2011 at 08:44 PM
What is disingenuous and insulting is to pretend that Planned Parenthood is a healthcare provider. Let's look at what a former director of Planned Parenthood revealed about Planned Parenthood's attempt to portray itself that way: 98% of Planned Parenthood's services rendered to pregnant women consists of abortions or abortion referrals. Planned Parenthood in excess of 650,000 abortions between 2008 and 2009. Planned Parenthood "unbundles" family planning services in order to make it appear that their focus is on family planning. For example, if they provide a prescription for 12 birth control packs, they register that as 12 visits. For abortion services, they do the opposite. But don't take my word for it, listen to Abby Johnson, who worked for 8 years in a Texas Planned Parenthood Clinic, and for 2 of those years as the clinic director. You can read about it here: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/153699-exposing-the-planned-parenthood-business-model
Jane Enviere April 09, 2011 at 11:27 PM
As you can guess, I have no issue with them providing safe, legal abortion services as a part of healthcare for women. I'm very familiar with them and have supported them for years. We can debate it for forever, but yes -- I absolutely believe all of their services make them healthcare providers. And I'm pleased to be able to support them in their efforts to ensure that women have access to education, care, contraception and legal, safe abortions.
Matt Walker April 10, 2011 at 02:05 AM
Abortion is not healthcare. If it were, the country wouldn't be having this debate. Thankfully, the percentage of Americans who self identify as pro-life is growing, while the percentage who identify themselves as "pro-choice" is dwindling. I agree this debate could go on forever, but why waste the bandwidth? After all, the pro-lifers are destined to win this battle on demographics alone.
Michael O'Connell April 10, 2011 at 03:08 AM
@ Matt Walker. To debate if planned parenthood performs abortions is irrelevant. The bottom line is abortions are not federally funded, and a woman has a right over her reproductive organs. Like it or not, this is part of freedom in America. If you don't like abortions, don't get one. To impose your ideology on another American, to force your will over another American's body, is crossing the line. Your freedom ends where another person's freedom begins. This isn't Iran.
Michael O'Connell April 10, 2011 at 03:12 AM
@ Matt Walker. I would like to see the reference of where your statement of "the percentage of Americans who self identify as pro-life is growing, while the percentage who identify themselves as "pro-choice" is dwindling." I question the accuracy of this statement with deep skepticism.
Matt Walker April 10, 2011 at 04:07 AM
Michael, You should start paying attention to the actual arguments being made. The argument is not whether Planned Parenthood performs abortions. The argument was whether Planned Parenthood should be designated as a "healthcare provider". As far as federal funding of abortions, perhaps you've never heard of the Mexico City Policy that was rescinded by the Obama Administration in 2009, which now allows federal funds to pay for abortions overseas. And to say that federal funds do not fund abortions in the United States is to ignore the testimony of individuals who have worked for Planned Parenthood and know how the money is dispersed and utilized within the organization.
Matt Walker April 10, 2011 at 04:16 AM
http://www.gallup.com/poll/126581/Generational-Differences-Abortion-Narrow.aspx http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/The-Vote/2009/0515/abortion-debate-gallup-says-more-americans-pro-life http://www.gallup.com/poll/118399/More-Americans-Pro-Life-Than-Pro-Choice-First-Time.aspx
Matt Walker April 10, 2011 at 04:20 AM
The term "common welfare" does not appear anywhere in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Michael O'Connell April 10, 2011 at 01:09 PM
Matt Walker, you are correct. I should have correctly posted GENERAL WELFARE, and not COMMON WELFARE. Thank you for finding my error. Thank you for following up.
Michael O'Connell April 10, 2011 at 01:11 PM
@Matt Walker The link you posted has been removed, and not verifiable.
Michael O'Connell April 10, 2011 at 01:18 PM
@Matt Walker For you, abortions may not be health care, but for a woman, it is. As a man, you have rights over your internal organs, and what happens to them. This is no different for a woman. Women are not property, and they have equal rights as you do. It is their health, and it is care for the woman. Abortions are not like they used to be. Most are in the form of two pills. Here is testimony... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59Ud3g2ymOM
Michael O'Connell April 10, 2011 at 01:29 PM
@Matt Walker Reversing the failed policies of the bush administration "abstinence only" programs, brings back practical life saving healthcare to countries we have been helping for decades with diseases and education. "Abstinence only" sounds great on paper, but in the real world, it doesn't work. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstinence-only_sex_education http://ari.ucsf.edu/science/reports/abstinence.pdf
patricia hish April 10, 2011 at 02:38 PM
Thank You Mr. O'Connell for your comment. Planned Parenthood saved the life of my dear friend. She worked all her life and then was laid off. She lost her health care and a month later a lump was discovered in her left breast. She was able to have the necessary test which just happened to have saved her life. Her 3 kids would have been without a mother had the lump not been examined and found to be cancerous. Thank You for understanding that we as women have rights too. If this were a man's issue there would be no discussion at all. You're a breath of fresh air, what a wonderful person you are.
Chrisi Vineyard April 10, 2011 at 03:53 PM
Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of safe, reliable health care — and more than 90 percent is preventive, primary care, which helps prevent unintended pregnancies through contraception, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment, and screen for cervical and other cancers. FACT:NO FEDERAL FUNDS ARE PROVIDED FOR AN ABORTION!!! List of services: Birth Control, Men's Sexual Health, Morning after pill, Pregnancy information, Sexual Orientation and Gender, Body Image, Sexually transmitted Diseases, Women's Health.
Matt Walker April 10, 2011 at 10:40 PM
I just checked, and they came up fine for me. I don't know why they came up as removed, unless maybe it has something to do with linking from this website? I'm not an IT guy, so all can do is post the links.
Michael O'Connell April 11, 2011 at 01:58 AM
@ matt Walker. So, the link worked this time. I looked at the graphs and the margin of error. "Gallup Poll Daily results are based on telephone interviews with 971 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted May 12-13, 2009, as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points." It seems the results are within the margin of error and are moot (trend position based on women). The big difference is in men. When it comes down to a woman's reproductive rights, men don't matter.
Matt Walker April 11, 2011 at 01:58 AM
@Michael: I tried to reply directly to your post, but I think we finally ran out of room. That's why my post is showing up down here. The most common form of abortion is not RU-486. It is vacuum aspiration. We could go round and round forever debating Planned Parenthood. I see that Ms. Vineyard has reverted to her practice of merely posting talking points, so we're getting redundant here. If anybody is interested in finding out about Planned Parenthood, especially in the local area, I would suggest they visit the following websites: http://www.familiesagainstplannedparenthood http://www.prolifeaction.org To read about the effect abortion has on women, read the stories at http://www.hopeafterabortion.com To read about the effect abortion has on men, go to http://www.menandabortion.info Each and every person has to make up his or her own mind about abortion and about Planned Parenthood.
Michael O'Connell April 11, 2011 at 02:15 AM
I agree. "Each and every person has to make up his or her own mind about abortion and about Planned Parenthood." Interesting article on the price tag of our military expenditures. Here is a huge area where we can cut government, buy the 100's of billions. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/10/global-military-spending-_n_847257.html
Matt Walker April 11, 2011 at 02:46 AM
We could even get back more if the Pentagon would cough up the trillions it stole back in the early years of the conflict in Iraq.
Matt Walker April 11, 2011 at 02:47 AM
I disagree. I think men do matter. But that's a debate for another time.
Jay July 10, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Jay July 25, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Jay August 17, 2011 at 04:12 PM


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