Head Start creator dies; valuable program endures

ROBERT E. COOKE, a creator of Head Start, the popular preschool program, died on Feb. 10. Cooke, who was born in Attleboro and died on Martha’s Vineyard, recommended in 1965 that the Johnson administration establish the program.

Over the last few years, funding for Head Start has been in turmoil, leading to 2,015 Massachusetts children being shut out of the program last fall. As Cooke understood so well, early childhood education is a cost-effective, proven way of getting kids a head start at an early age and gives every child a fair shot at success later on.

Studies on these programs indicate that their participants spend less time in jail, more time in school, and cost the taxpayers less by reducing the need for expensive programs like special education. Yet thousands of children in Massachusetts don’t have access. We should honor Cooke’s legacy by making sure that every child in Massachusetts has access to high-quality early education.

Jay Epstein