Bevin running mate Jenean Hampton says Head Start is for early "indoctrination"

09/24/2015 09:13 PM

Jenean Hampton, the running mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate Matt Bevin, said the federal early childhood education program known as Head Start is used to indoctrinate young children.

Head Start is a federal program providing 3 to 5 year old children from low income families with health and developmental screenings, meals and education services.

On the campaign trail in Jessamine County on Tuesday, Hampton told a group at a meet-and-greet in Nicholasville that the program essentially does not serve a purpose.

“I remember when Head Start began and it was just for low income, very low income kids because they were not getting at home the training they should have gotten,” Hampton said in response to a question. “That’s what that was for. But I suspect, I truly suspect that now it’s just being used to get the kids at an even earlier age and just start the indoctrination sooner. That’s my feelings.”

On Wednesday, Bevin campaign spokeswoman Jessica Ditto told Pure Politics that Hampton was “wrapping up a long day of campaigning and admits ‘indoctrination’ was not a good choice of words.”

“However, the rest of her response was in line with the campaign’s view that Head Start funding needs to be evaluated so that we are doing the very best in educating our early learners,” Ditto said in an emailed response.

The Bevin campaign included an email from an unidentified person they say asked Hampton the question at the meet-and-greet.

“After her speech (which was excellent) she opened the floor for questions. My question was phrased basically like this: “As a father with a daughter in Head Start, I agree with him that we need to carefully evaluate the way this money is being spent. It is unfortunate that the Democrats have twisted his words to make it seem like he doesn’t support education. Out of curiousity, have you guys discussed specific ideas to help improve the Head Start program?”

I asked the question because I have heard the attacks and I am sure it is something that will continue to be asked about, and I was genuinely curious about Jenean’s stance on the issue.

Her total response was 3-4 minutes long, and included the segment in the video of her offering her opinion that Head Start is being used to start the “indoctrination” (possibly a poor choice of words by Jenean) earlier. She went on to conclude that cutting funding for Head Start was NOT something that was a priority for the campaign.

It is unfortunate that clearly someone was there with negative intentions and took that video to make the campaign look bad. I apologize for any role I had in this, but I continue to be a big supporter of Matt and Jenean. Feel free to forward this to anyone else who needs to see it.”

During the last GOP primary debate on KET in May, Bevin said the early childhood education program, Head Start, “serves no purpose” once students reach third grade.

“The evidence is very clear that it is not working the way we’re doing it, and yet absolutely I believe that early childhood education is important and we should be putting everything we have” in developing a new methodology, he said, adding after the debate, “I think we could accomplish a tremendously greater amount of good with fewer dollars.”

Kentucky Democratic Party spokesperson David Bergstein issued a statement along with the video, which came from a campaign tracker working for the KDP.

“It is so unfortunate that both Matt Bevin and Jenean Hampton continue to disparage early childhood education programs that play such an important role in preparing Kentucky’s children for lifelong success,” Bergstein said. “The contrast in this race is clear: while Attorney General Conway and Sannie Overly understand the importance of a strong early childhood education, Bevin and Hampton clearly do not.

“It’s just more proof that hardworking Kentuckians cannot trust an ‘East Coast Con Man’ like Bevin to serve as our governor.”


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