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Project Head Start and B-1B Bombers

Recently I was skimming the August 19, 2013, edition of my hometown newspaper, the Eugene Register-Guard. Two very short articles caught my attention:

            Cuts will hit Head Start hard.

            B-1B bomber crashes, crew saved.

The first article indicated that, “Automatic federal spending cuts will reduce the number of low-income children in Head Start’s preschool program by more than 57,000 during the next school year.” The second article indicated that, “the cost of a B-1B bomber is about $283 million.”

My mathematical brain kicked into gear and divided the bomber cost by the number of Head Start students. The result was nearly $5,000 per child being cut from the Head Start program. I began to wonder what Head Start spends per child each year.

The website provides 2009 data that Head Start cost a little less than $7,900 per child in 2009. So, not adjusting for inflation, one B-1B bomber costs about the same as a year of Head Start for 35,000 children.

The website indicates that, “The B-1B entered service in 1986 with the USAF Strategic Air Command as a nuclear bomber.” One hundred of these supersonic strategic bombers were built. At $283 million each, this represents an investment of more than $28 billion.

Federal Budgeting Decisions

Have you ever wondered how our federal legislators and the President make budget decisions when there is not enough money to fund all of the perceived needs or wants? I wonder how these people sleep at night as they wrestle with such spending decisions.

Of course, almost all of us live within relatively limited personal budgets. On a day-to-day basis we have to make decisions that affect our quality of life. From time to time we may be faced by a major borrowing/purchasing decision such as in purchasing a home or new car. But, we are making these decisions for ourselves and our immediate family, without having to think about the good of the nation and all of its people.

It is easy to be critical of the decisions that our federal government makes. This is especially true when it makes decisions contrary to what we—as specific individuals—would make. And partisan politics often rears its ugly head.I, personally, believe that we should be putting more resources into education-oriented projects such as Head Start, our overall K-12 schooling system, free or reduced price school lunches, costs of higher education, and so on. Still, I believe we are doing a pretty good job in maintaining and improving the overall quality and effectiveness our formal and informal educational systems.

What You Can Do

My recommendation is that you look on the bright side of the fence and focus your attention on proven ways to improve education within the level of resources we currently have available. Focus on the big picture but also focus on what you, specifically, can do to improve education.

Suggested Readings from IAE and Other Publications

You can use Google to search all of the IAE publications. Click here to begin. Then click in the IAE Search box that is provided, insert your search terms, and click on the Search button.

Click here to search the entire collection of IAE Blog entries.

Here are some examples of publications that might interest you:

21st century skills. See  

General educational goals in the United States. See

High school graduation rates are only one measure of educational success. See

Important ideas about 21st century education. See

We can improve education. Part 1: Asking the right questions. See

What can you do and what will you do? See

Evaluating Medical Doctors and Teachers
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Friday, 03 December 2021

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