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Image: Courtesy of Tim Bartik

Image: Courtesy of Tim Bartik

One of the most energizing reads of the fall season is Tim Bartik’s new book, “From Preschool to Prosperity: The Economic Payoff to Early Childhood Education.”

“Wouldn’t it be great if there was some feasible policy that could boost the American economy and enlarge opportunities for more of our children?” Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute, asks on page one.

Well: “we’re in luck. Our economic future and our children’s future can be significantly improved by expanding high-quality early childhood education programs, such as pre-K education.”

“People should see themselves as part of a historic movement,” Bartik said of early education advocates in a recent interview. In the history of education, he explained, there was the common school movement, the high school movement, school desegregation — and now there’s the expansion of high-quality preschool programs. Continue Reading »

In Massachusetts, 43% of third graders are not proficient readers, according to the 2014 MCAS results released today. Statewide performance in third grade reading is unchanged since last year and has remained flat since 2001, however several Gateway Cities made progress this year.

third grade below trendline

Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“The 2014 MCAS scores show that the state’s third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. This year, as in 2013, 43% of third grade students did not score proficient in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark.

The consequences of reading failure at this age are significant. Struggling readers are four times less likely to graduate high school on time than proficient readers, jeopardizing their prospects for participating in our global knowledge-based economy.

Continue Reading »

“Our community’s early childhood needs are bigger than any one entity or particular funding strategy can fix on its own. The fact is that children who start behind stay behind, and it is a community-wide challenge to ensure all kids start off on the right foot.

“It’s time that we rally around this idea — that starting early truly does matter.”

Scott McClelland in the Houston Chronicle opinion piece, “McClelland: Broader access to pre-K programs a necessity,” September 13, 2014. McClelland is president of H-E-B Houston and chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Education Advisory Committee.

Photo: Courtesy of Mayor Bill de Blasio's Facebook page.

Photo: Courtesy of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Facebook page.

Just nine months after he became mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio has launched the expansion of high-quality preschool in the Big Apple by creating new spots for 50,000 more young children. He’s expanding the program from its base of 20,000 spots up to 73,000 spots over two years. It’s a huge job with real challenges, but de Blasio’s ambitious effort could improve academic and lifetime outcomes for tens of thousands of children.

Here’s a news roundup chronicling the ups and downs of the new preschool season.

“Universal Pre-K Takes Off,” an editorial in the New York Times, September 1, 2014

“It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is,” the Times said. “Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

This summer federal officials announced that states could apply for preschool development grants: a $250 million federal program that will help “states to build, develop, and expand voluntary, high-quality preschool programs for children from low- and moderate-income families.”

Now an impressive 32 states (as of Monday) have declared their interest in the program, which is being jointly run by the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

“These grants would lay the groundwork to ensure that more states are ready to participate in the Preschool for All formula grant initiative proposed by the Administration,” according to the Department of Education.

Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and New Hampshire are among the nine states applying for the program’s “development grants,” funding for states with little or no public preschool infrastructure. Continue Reading »

U.S. CapitolYesterday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). Last reauthorized in 1996, the Child Care and Development Block Grant is a cornerstone of federal assistance in early childhood education. Most funding for early education and care in Massachusetts comes from CCDBG and other federal sources. It is therefore critical for CCDBG to reflect high-quality program standards, including health and safety standards.

An analysis by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) shows this reauthorization makes the following improvements:

  • Raises the floor for health and safety by requiring any provider who receives CCDBG funds (except relatives) to be subject to licensing, annual inspections and criminal background checks; providers who are license-exempt would be inspected for health and safety;
  • Requires more transparent information for families who are seeking child care options and assistance;
  • Prohibits the use of child assessments for high stakes purposes for children and programs;
  • Raises the minimum states must use for quality from the current 4 percent to 9 percent over the next five years; places additional focus and resources toward quality infant and toddler care; continues to allow states flexibility in the types of innovations and systems work for which they can use CCDBG quality funds with explicit recognition of quality rating and improvement systems, professional development, and support for programs to become accredited;
  • Requires eligibility at minimum of twelve months, regardless of any changes that may occur to a family’s income or work, training, or education status.

While Massachusetts continues to make progress advancing state-level early education policy, this reauthorization is a critical federal component in advancing access for all families to high-quality early education and care.

For more information on CCDBG reauthorization, visit EdCentral.

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Newly released poll results from the Gallup organization show strong public support for preschool.

“Seven in 10 Americans say they favor using federal money to make sure high-quality preschool education programs are available for every child in America,” according to Gallup, which adds:

“Such schooling has great potential benefits for children, instilling academic and social skills at a young age that can aid them throughout their school years. That may be one reason for Americans’ widespread support for the proposal.”

Specifically, the poll asked: “Would you favor or oppose using federal money to increase funding to make sure high-quality preschool programs are available for every child in America?” Continue Reading »

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