Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts
~  Shawna  Cutler ~

Head Start and Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty

Paula Fox: Overcoming Childhood Obstacles

Paula  Fox
Paula Fox, an author of young adult literature, depicts young children’s lives and the difficulties they may encounter. The stories demonstrate how the children adjust to the world around them. A majority of Fox’s stories are influenced by her own childhood experiences. Orphaned at a young age, Fox was forced to move from home to home, constantly adjusting to new environments. Despite her unstable childhood, Fox develops into a strong individual. Her protagonists similarly face difficulties and overcome them, encouraging her young readers to persevere through life, just as she did. Fox’s characters adjust to the predicaments in which they find themselves in order to rise above life’s hardships. Overcoming difficulties in childhood is crucial to the development of a child’s character and maturity. With a good education and healthy surroundings a child will learn essential skills to help him succeed.

The Head Start program provided safe and healthy environments for young children and helped them develop the skills needed to succeed and excel. It was the most popular and enduring legacies of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s War on Poverty. Johnson’s legislative program was a call to eliminate poverty from America’s cities and streets which caused a rise in juvenile delinquency among other problems. The Head Start program started as an eight week summer project under the auspices of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Head Start aimed to provide young children of low-income families with the same opportunities that children from wealthier homes received. The preschoolers in Head Start improved their vocabulary, letter and phonics knowledge, in addition to social and emotional development. Children ages three to five were welcomed as were children with disabilities. The staff at Head Start was pulled directly from the communities they served and parent involvement was encouraged. In part because of his childhood experiences, President Lyndon Johnson knew that education was a way disadvantaged children could escape poverty.

Major Works Consulted:

Devaney, John. Lyndon Baines Johnson: President. New York: Walker, 1986.
Fox, Paula. Blowfish Live in the Sea. New York: Aladdin, 1970.
---. Radiance Descending. New York: DK, 1997.
Kearns, Doris. Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.
Photo Credit: Hipple, Ted. Writers for Young Adults. New York: Macmillan, 1997.