Frankie Brundage King
cried when her
mother told her she
was going to have another baby.According to custom in their rural Alabama county, this meant that King
, the oldest daughter, would have to drop out of school to care for the infant.Married herself at the age of 16, King
had six children by the time she
got a job as a maid and thought that was the end of her
education and her
But then King
started attending meetings of the Alabama Council on Human Relations, the organization that sponsored Head Start in Lee County, Alabama.They encouraged her
to go back to school and gave her
the confidence that she
also began working for Head Start.
Due to a speech impediment, King
was at first even afraid to answer the phone.
With the support of Spears and Head Start parents in similar circumstances, however, King
acquired secretarial skills and obtained a Graduate Equivalency Diploma.I went to school half a day, and worked eight hours in the afternoon and at night for Head Start as a clerk-typist, said King
.It was the first job I ever had that did not include pushing a mop or dusting a table. [ 18 ].
Empowered by a new sense of pride, and the sense that she
could make a better life for herself and children, King
enrolled in college part-time.By the age of 37, the same year her
oldest son graduated from college, King
bachelor's degree.All six of her
children completed college as well, and King
is now the human services coordinator for the Alabama Council.
Despite numerous success stories, studies are just beginning to attempt to quantify the impact of Head Start parent involvement on families.One such study examined the effects of parent involvement on Head Start parents' psychological well-being.Mothers who participated reported fewer psychological symptoms, greater feelings of mastery, and greater life satisfaction at the end of the program. [ 19 ] Another study, the Head Start Family Impact Project, found that parent involvement in a Minnesota Head Start program increased the sense of family cohesion and adaptability, and the researchers speculate this will eventually improve the children's performance in school. [ 20 ].
But what is needed is research on how participation in Head Start affects the whole fabric of parents' lives-their employment, housing, and overall socioeconomic status.At the same time, we need a realistic yardstick by which to measure the effectiveness of Head Start's parent involvement policy.
18. Frankie Brundage King
, interview with Susan Muenchow, February 21, 1991