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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH AMERICA DISCOVERS POVERTY PHONE OR TABLET preparing children for kindergarten). By 2012, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research, forty states plus Washington DC offered pre-K programs for four-year-old chil- dren deemed at risk for failure by reason of income (Barnett, Carolan, Fitzgerald, and Squires 2012). Impossible Expectations Poverty, of course, has not gone away, and children need early childhood education now more than ever. But the collective good- will that has supported unparalleled growth and funding for Head Start and the expansion of early childhood education by state legis- latures during the last five decades has largely dissipated. Funding for state programs has declined steadily since 2002, culminating in a record-breaking drop in 2011 to 2012 of $500 million (Bar- nett, Carolan, Fitzgerald, and Squires 2012). For the first time, the debate over funding for Head Start and pre-K has taken on a com- pletely different character, with garden-variety bickering over how much to spend giving way to substantial questions about whether these programs are worth having at all. True, the ranks of those who would not spend a dime of their tax money to assist the poor in any fashion have grown consider- ably, but they have been joined by serious critics across the polit- ical spectrum who say that Head Start and school district pre-K programs have failed to deliver on their promise and should be unceremoniously retired. But what was that promise? Perhaps the greatest contributor to the public sense of disappointment in Head Start has been the program’s inability to define itself. President Obama, for example, continues to refer to early childhood education and Head Start as an investment in America’s future (Hudson 2014). This carefully 3 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL