Head Start works! Ask the families!
H.R. 1429 – Improving Head Start Act of 2007
To reauthorize the Head Start Act, to improve program quality, to expand access, and for other purposes
Read more information on this bill at the Library of Congress.
11/6/07 House Passed
The Improving Head Start Act, H.R. 1429, is bipartisan legislation that would reauthorize the Head Start program, and oppose any attempt to repeal longstanding critical civil rights protections. As reported out of the House Committee on Education and Labor on a 42-1 bipartisan vote, H.R. 1429 keeps in place a 35-year old civil rights provision that protects over 213,000 Head Start teachers and staff and over 1,360,000 parent volunteers from employment discrimination based on religion in federally-funded positions in Head Start programs.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.
The Head Start program provides grants to local public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families, with a special focus on helping preschoolers develop the early reading and math skills they need to be successful in school. In FY 1995, the Early Head Start program was established to serve children from birth to three years of age in recognition of the mounting evidence that the earliest years matter a great deal to children's growth and development.
Head Start programs promote school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families. They engage parents in their children's learning and help them in making progress toward their educational, literacy and employment goals. Significant emphasis is placed on the involvement of parents in the administration of local Head Start programs.
Felix Tijerina mixed Mexican food and Texas politics
Tijerina’s story is a study in assimilation. His mission was to help Mexican-Americans merge into the American mainstream as successfully as he had. His cooking style was not about bringing authentic Mexican flavors to Texas; it was about putting Anglos at ease with things Mexican. His floury chili gravy and fluffy chili con queso were not far from brown gravy and cheese dip, and the spicing of his sauces was nonconfrontational to the delicate Anglo palate. Early Mexican restaurants like Felix’s were among the first institutions where urban Anglos and Hispanics rubbed elbows. Tijerina’s Americanized version of Mexican cooking was what brought the races together. And it was a triumph of diplomacy.
In 1918, 13-year-old Felix Tijerina took a job as a busboy at the Original Mexican Restaurant. Tijerina was born in Sugar Land to migrant cotton pickers. While he worked at the restaurant, he taught himself English and became a friend and trusted associate of Caldwell’s, rising to the rank of manager. In 1922 the Original Mexican Restaurant moved from its first address on Fannin to a larger location at 1109 Main.
But fine Mexican food isn’t really what Felix Tijerina is remembered for. A veteran of Mexican-American voter registration drives going back to the 1930s, Tijerina was among the city’s earliest Hispanic activists. As a successful businessman, he became friends with Roy Hofheinz, R.E. “Bob” Smith and Louis Cutrer, and was the first Mexican-American appointed to serve as a board member of the Houston Housing Authority. Tijerina also rose through the local, regional and state levels of the League of United Latin American Citizens. In 1956 he was elected the organization’s national president and served four consecutive annual terms. As president of LULAC, Tijerina started the Little Schools of 400.
At the time, Mexican-American students suffered an extremely high dropout rate. Tijerina believed that if Spanish-speaking students could learn a little English before entering elementary school, they might stand a better chance. A pilot program was started in 1957 in Ganado, southwest of Houston and just north of Port Lavaca. Tijerina paid a 17-year-old named Isabel Verver $25 a week to teach five-year-old Hispanic children 400 words of English. All the children in the program successfully completed first grade in a school system that had a poor track record with Spanish-speaking kids: It had failed 50 percent of them the year before.
Governor Price Daniel asked Tijerina to expand the Little Schools of 400 program to other Texas cities. Speaking on Spanish-language radio stations across the state, he urged Mexican-American parents to get their children involved.
Felix Tijerina went from a 13-year-old busboy who didn’t speak a word of English to the most prominent Mexican-American in Houston and one of the state’s Hispanic leaders. Politicians such as Ralph Yarborough courted his support. He was even invited to the LBJ ranch to consult with Lyndon Johnson about educational programs. His efforts to educate Spanish-speaking kids made quite an impression on the future president.
Felix Tijerina’s Little Schools of 400 became the inspiration for LBJ’s Head Start program.
Edited by Norman Bliss