Head Start vs Amazon: Which Would You Choose?

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will fund $2 billion in philanthropic efforts. Some people think the money will be wasted.

Please consider the Problem With Jeff Bezos’s $2 Billion Gift to Charity by Kelsey Piper.

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, caused a stir last week by announcing a major philanthropic initiative that will devote $2 billion to address homelessness and education. Called the Day One Fund, the project has two priorities: funding existing nonprofits that serve homeless families, and creating a network of new, nonprofit preschools in low-income communities.

Two billion dollars is an enormous amount of money, enough to transform many lives. The good that Bezos will do is commendable. Unfortunately, he might achieve a lot less than he could.

By starting out already committed to two causes, Bezos undermines his fund’s ability to answer the question he launched it with: “Where are the opportunities to make things better?”

We’ve been trying for a long time to do early childhood education that produces lasting results for kids. The earliest attempt in the US was Head Start, the federally funded early childhood education program for low-income families, which has been running since the 1960s. There have been some studies with promising results, but there have also been many that struggle to detect any effect size.

On the pessimistic side, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have found that it barely improves outcomes for kids — and the gains don’t last, typically evaporating by first or second grade. A 2010 study by the Department of Health and Human Services found that “averaging across all children, the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely absent by 1st grade.”

Surprise Not

I am not surprised by those results. Nor should you be.

Government programs are inherently wasteful. There is no incentive to perform. Ironically, there is incentive to not perform, simply to get more funding.

Graft abounds. So does public union inefficiency.

Hire a bunch of bad teachers and it is damn impossible to get rid of them because of union rules.

Inability to Think

Anyone comparing government slush funds to private enterprise clearly cannot think.

Hello Vox

Instead of bitching at Bezos, we ought to be insisting that Head Start and other government programs be entirely shut down as ineffective!

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

No. 1-15

If you want kids to be smart, you gotta make it pay to be smart. That means getting STEM workers, in particular, into good quality careers. Instead of letting them rot as they currently do in the United States while H-1B foreign guest workers are brought in by planeloads.


If Jeff Bezos does for preschools what Bill Gates did to public schools via the Common Core curriculum, we will have cause to be relieved if the results are merely as ineffective as Head Start.

Why can't these people spend their excess money on something useful like museums or libraries the way old-fashioned philanthropists did?


"Head Start vs Amazon: Which Would You Choose?"

From the RTC results, it seems the answer should be neither.


If building more indoctrination camps led to more, better and more useful learning, kennel owners everywhere would build them by the acre.

And no dog would bother paying attention. Preferring instead to sniff eachother's asses, fight and steal eachother's lunch.

Now, if instead, the kennel owner provided some visible, meaningful reward for bothering to learn to sit and roll around......

The millions upon millions who dragged themselves from poverty to middle class status in Asia over the past generations, just like their Western brethren a generation of more earlier, did so by being presented with clearly visible opportunity to improve their standing. Not on the back of government programs and cheesy publicity stunts from modern day Marie Antoinettes.

By comparative current standards, the reasons Germany does so much better of a job of integrating immigrants than the rest, is similar: They have an economy that provides opportunity for getting in the door at the ground level, then climbing as relevant new skills are acquired. Rather than one designed around protecting the privileges of the "managerial class," by requirements for "a college degree" (conveniently increasingly from more and more expensive, deemed "elite", colleges; as the proles started to catch on...) for career track occupations. Leaving the rest to stay at the burger fryer from high school to early death.