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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER ONE a doctor or a dentist; they were malnourished, anemic, plagued by chronic ear infections and parasites; they had received not a single immunization; and their baby teeth were painfully decayed. All too often, untreated and undetected vision and hearing problems had deprived these children of sensory stimulation crucial to the devel- oping brain, causing cognitive and language delays that would be very difficult to overcome as they grew older. Head Start Is Born Confronted with these harsh and inexcusable inequalities, the nation responded with both indignation and compassion. Driven by nothing more than the human impulse to relieve suffering and a fundamental sense of fair play, a bipartisan consensus in Congress emerged that said it was our collective responsibility to level the playing field. In 1965 Head Start, the federal program that currently provides basic health, nutrition, education, and developmental ser- vices to over a million low-income children from birth to age five, was launched with overwhelming support and goodwill. Although the Democratic politicians who pushed Head Start through Congress, including Lyndon B. Johnson and Bobby Ken- nedy, saw Head Start as having the potential to make a lasting impact on the American social and economic landscape, for the American public there was not necessarily a political agenda or grand social engineering attached to the new federal program. People of almost every political persuasion supported Head Start simply because it was the right thing to do. Following the debut of Head Start, one by one, states began providing their own versions of early childhood education for low-income children (dubbed pre-K to indicate that, unlike Head Start, these programs were explicitly and narrowly focused on 2 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL