Rebecca Kaplan

OAKLAND | Calling on the feds to intervene on the local level is nothing new for Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

In the past, for instance, she has excoriated the federal government for looking askance while financial institutions like Goldman Sachs were left unscathed by their malfeasance. That indiscretion left cities like Oakland paying dearly for the effects of the Great Recession. Now, she says Congress is letting down Oakland’s children.

On Wednesday, Kaplan urged Congress to restore full funding to Head Start, the federal program relied upon many low-income residents in Oakland and Alameda County, at-large, to help prepare young children for the beginning of their school years.

Kaplan says Oakland already did it part. Earlier this year, $1.5 million in federal funding for Head Start was unilaterally cut by Congress through sequestration. However, the Oakland City Council’s voted to fill-in the cuts in its latest fiscal year budget approved last June. In the meantime, Oakland’s budget remains cash-strapped. “I call on Congress today, with a deep sense of urgency, to restore full federal funding for the Head Start program,” said Kaplan in front of the federal building in Oakland. The rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021.

“The federal cuts to Head Start across America are nothing more than collateral damage from congressional dysfunction commonly known as sequestration,” Kaplan added. “But let’s be clear: it is simply unconscionable that Congress would act so quickly to protect themselves and the well-connected from sequester-based inconvenience in air travel, while continuing to impose devastating cuts to Head Start and other vital programs that help working families who need it the most.”