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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET FOREWORD What Went Wrong? A “head start” for four-year-olds was a good idea. But every good idea comes with its own risks. The big risk for Head Start, in its programs for young children, was the imposition of testing as the measure of success. Large-scale funding demands accountability. As a publicly funded program, Head Start became accountable at a level previ- ously rare in early childhood education. An idea that moves into the public arena has to be simplified in order to gain voter support. And so standardized research-based evidence of children’s learn- ing was sought to assure us that our tax dollars were being well spent. Numbers of all sorts were expected to serve as shorthand for learning. Testing became big business. “Teaching to the test” took over. What Was Early Childhood Education Like before Federal Funding? Before Head Start, most early childhood programs had been left alone to develop practice-based theory. Part-day preschools typi- cally served middle- and upper-income families able to pay tuition or educated mothers coming together to initiate parent coopera- tives. Many were lab schools serving university communities and created to study the behavior of young children. They were auton- omous, without accountability to public funding sources. In these preschools, early childhood educators and researchers discovered a great deal about young children as learners. Guide- lines for developmentally appropriate practice were professionally developed and widely implemented. They made it clear that young children are active learners who need to practice initiative—to play. xviii COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL