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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET CHAPTER ONE crafted phrase on the one hand invites various constituencies with competing and often opposing agendas to project on it whatever meaning best suits their goals and worldview, but on the other hand guarantees disappointment and resentment when those goals are not accomplished. The starkest example of impossible expectations and failed agenda was set into motion before the original Head Start Act was even signed into law. Perhaps fueled by a desire to oversell a program that was basically about human decency and could have stood on its own as an important piece of the social safety net, the architects of Head Start upped the ante considerably in statements to the press and to Congress. In the giddy heyday of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, Head Start declared that it could actually eradicate poverty in the United States. Language Deprivation From our vantage point today, the pronouncements that Head Start could break the cycle of poverty seem hopelessly naive. Now that the War on Poverty has proven to be as successful as the War on Drugs, Head Start seems to many to be little more than an anachronistic monument to good intentions and wishful thinking. The persistence of poverty in the face of billions of dollars invested in Head Start and state preschools over five decades, as well as the fluctuations in the severity of poverty as the economy grows and shrinks, is fairly compelling evidence that poverty is systemic and not simply a function of the lack of early childhood education. It would be unfair and inaccurate, though, to dismiss Head Start and preschool in general as nothing more than a haven for do-gooders or a soft landing place for politicians wishing to avoid 4 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL