Strengthening the Head Start Legacy: Growth, Health and Justice (HEADSTART)

Instructor Name: 
Marylin (Katie) Kissinger
Course Description: 

Strengthening Headstart: Health, Growth And Justice  Head Start is this nation's largest investment in young children to date.  It is also one of the few remaining efforts from the 1960's "War on Poverty".  
Students will:

  • review data and documentation of the historical successes and challenges of Head Start;
  • analyze and reflect on the impact it has had in communities;
  • engage in a qualitative/participatory research project;
  • design a collective action project in conjunction with Head Start community participants that will enhance or improve the health, growth or justice in that Head Start Community.

Students will learn about and then engage in a qualitative/participatory research process from the Popular (Libratory) Education model used by the Highlander Education and Research Center. This approach will include the methodology used at Highlander:

Researchers (PSU students)study the history and background of the relevant issue (Head Start Program) and learn the skills needed for Process Facilitation;

Researchers (PSU students) meet with Community group (Head Start Community: staff, past and present Head Start parents, Policy Council Members, members of the community who qualify but are not served by Head Start currently) who become Co-researchers by sharing their stories and describing successes and gaps in Head Start service to community;

Researchers and Co-Researchers identify the themes and trends in stories, look for relevant related research and resources and;

Together create strategies for a collective action plan which PSU students will present to the Head Start Program.

Learning Objectives: 

  • to develop an understanding of the purpose and history of the Head Start Program
  • to recognize the trends and emerging challenges for impoverished communities
  • to learn about and then complete a qualitative/participatory research project and process based on the Popular Education model used at Highlander Education and Research Center
  • to study and use an informal needs assessment (also a part of the Highlander methodology) to identify existing strengths and gaps in services or areas of ineffective response to community problems in local Head Start Program Services
  • to practice developing a responsive, community generated process to identify, strategize and select a problem for collective (group of invested stake holders from Head Start) action.
  • to understand libratory leadership working as an agent for social change
  • to practice using the analysis of dynamics of oppression as a tool for promoting institutional and community change

Although this is an online course, students will have opportunities and are strongly encouraged to participate in face to face contact with Team members and/or Head Start Partners.