Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

Head Start cuts could have long-term consequences

Anyone trying to make ends meet might make significant cuts to get their house in order, but the need to be judicious always remains paramount.

You wouldn't stop changing the oil in your car because it likely would lead to severe engine damage and a greater expense down the road.

You wouldn't stop getting regular checkups from the doctor because an untreated illness likely would fester and cost more to treat later.

In a sense, however, our leaders in Washington are making a similar mistake when it comes to Head Start and Early Head Start, the proven early education programs that not only lift up preschoolers but lend purpose to those parents.

Under the guidance of executive director Louis Finney, Hillsborough County's Head Start program is nationally recognized. But it had to endure a 5 percent cut of $1.4 million on March 1, resulting in the elimination of playgrounds at four locations.

The cut also suspended a vehicle purchase and construction projects, reduced bus services, eliminated a planned teacher training and resulted in the loss of a full-time employee at the Lutheran Services Florida Early Head Start program.

According to Andresea Jackson, chairwoman of the Hillsborough Head Start Policy Council, the cuts will grow more severe if Congress doesn't create a final resolution that modifies the sequestration.

The cuts may even lead to some children being pushed out of the program, a program that already has a waiting list of more than 1,000.

"One child losing a slot in the fall is not acceptable," Jackson wrote in an email after the council met with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, last week.

Imagine the at-risk child who enters a kindergarten without the aid of Head Start. When the teacher asks, "How many of you can count to 10?" Hands shoot into the air, but the unprepared child remains silent. The scene repeats itself when she asks the students about the alphabet, their address and tying their shoes.

The unprepared child wonders what's wrong with him and why he doesn't possess the same skills as his peers. Maybe he lashes out and becomes a behavior problem.

By third grade, he's unable to read at his grade level and on a path of underachievement and inferiority — a path experts say will likely lead to an incarceration and possibly life as a career criminal, costing tax payers millions.

It's clear that Head Start is not an expense to be eliminated, but an investment to be heightened. And remember, because Head Start offers parenting classes, marriage counseling and requires its parents to either maintain a job or pursue higher education, it strengthens families.

"President Obama is trying, reaching out to members in Congress," said Castor, who also expressed disappointment about National Institutes of Health grant cuts impacting Moffitt Cancer Center.

"We've made enormous cuts already. We can't make cuts that harm our economic future."

The phrase "unintended consequences" keeps coming to mind. No one underestimates the debt and deficit problems facing our nation, but the idea is to make matters better, not worse.

Cuts to Head Start without careful consideration of the impact will leave this county and the nation dealing with unwelcome problems easy to conceive but difficult to solve.

Head Start is the ounce of prevention we would be wise to maintain.

That's all I'm saying.

Comments
Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Apple to build second campus, hire 20,000 in $350B pledge

Associated PressSAN FRANCISCO — Apple is planning to build another corporate campus and hire 20,000 workers during the next five years as part of a $350 billion commitment to the United States that will be partially financed by an upcoming windfall f...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘‘giant’’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from h...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

Gibsonton man faces 50 counts of child porn

GIBSONTON — A 46-year-old man was arrested Wednesday by Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents on 50 counts of possession of child pornography and one count of promoting a sexual performance by a child.Authorities said they received several tip...
Updated: 3 hours ago

He still has nightmares: Deckhand recalls prior casino boat fire

Cory Byrd said he still has nightmares about the smoke. In them, he is back in the cabin of the Express Shuttle II, scrambling to reach the white rectangle of an open door. The smoke was so thick, he said, you could barely see an outstretched hand. ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

Wallaby bounds down Sydney Harbour Bridge; North, South Korea to march as one in Olympics; more in world news

AustraliaWallaby infiltrates Sydney bridgeA wayward wallaby disrupted downtown traffic by bounding across the Sydney Harbor Bridge on Tuesday with police in pursuit. The adult male was captured without any apparent serious injury and is expected to b...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

Pinellas sheriff, feds announce changes to controversial immigrant detention policy

LARGO — For years, county sheriffs in the United States have faced a quandary when asked by federal officials to hold undocumented immigrants in their local jails. They could continue to hold them for up to two days past the time they were legally fr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

Water Street Tampa developers seek artist and design for $600,000 outdoor art near USF med school

TAMPA — Water Street Tampa called Wednesday for artists to send in their ideas for a big piece of public art for the outdoor plaza between one of the $3 billion project’s office buildings and the new University of South Florida Morsani College of Med...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in record $112 billion to Florida in 2016

Tourism brought in a record $112 billion to Florida’s economy in 2016, up about 3 percent from 2015, according to Visit Florida figures released Wednesday. About 10 percent — $88 billion — of the state’s gross domestic product came from tourism in 20...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

Time to carbo load: Three new bakeries include an Australian bakery, second La Segunda

LA SEGUNDAA Tampa Bay giant has stirred and is on the move. La Segunda Central Bakery, a family-owned Ybor City institution for nearly 103 years (they celebrated that birthday Jan. 15) and the largest producer of Cuban bread in the world, will open a...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued freeze warnings for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties.A cold air mass is moving southward through the Florida peninsula dropping temperatures across the Tampa Bay ar...
Updated: 5 hours ago