WASHINGTON -- It's not often you get to see a Heritage Foundation scholar testifying side-by-side with a 10-year-old girl over the impacts of sequestration on early childhood education programs like Head Start.
And that's probably a good thing for the scholars.
At a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, the conservative think tank's David Muhlhausen came equipped with recent studies (widely disputed by many independent scholars) to argue that the 700,000 children losing Head Start programs were not suffering because, he said, Head Start doesn't work.
But Sakhia Whitehead, an honor student at Garrison Elementary School in Washington, had a very different personal experience.
"I remember them teaching me how to read and write my name. I also remember sometimes seeing the doctor there to get a checkup," Sakhia testified. "Head Start helped me get prepared for kindergarten. When I got to kindergarten, I already knew how to read and write. But my new classmates did not. So kindergarten was pretty easy for me."
And, although the studies of Head Start noted by Muhlhausen found mixed results with modestly successful long-term impacts, Sakhia said she had no doubt about what Head Start did for her.
"I tell my brothers all the time how much I loved Head Start. I tell them it can help them in school, because I know it helped me to be the honor roll student that I am today," she said. "I have been on the honor roll since I started elementary school and I’m very proud of that. I want my brothers to follow in my footsteps."
Sakhia said her favorite subject is math, and she said she wants to teach someday. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chairman of the committee, and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), its top Republican, hailed her ambitions.
Of course, anecdotal testimony does not science make, but it's hard to argue with an adorable success story sitting right next to you.
Watch the video above with Whitehead and Mulhausen going point by point.
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.
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