Early Childhood Education

First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson visiting a Project Head Start classroom, March 19, 1966
Courtesy of Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, photograph by Robert Knudsen

Early childhood education became a focal point for education reform when the Head Start Program was launched in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty. Head Start was designed to teach low income and minority children the skills required for success in primary school. Today only a small percentage of eligible infants and toddlers are able to secure spots in this program—a challenge that has contributed to poor and minority children’s underperformance in schools.

Black Panther Party Free Breakfast sign
Source Unknown

Social justice organizations, including the Black Panthers, founded community schools in the late 1960s and early 1970s as an alternative to public school systems.  This sign advertises the Panthers free breakfast programs.