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President Barack Obama and a young student touch fingers during at the Community Children's Center, one of the nation's oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan., Jan. 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and a young student touch fingers at the Community Children’s Center, one of the nation’s oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan., Jan. 22, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Child care got crucial attention in President Obama’s State of the Union address; and now the president is calling for a federal investment in child care to make it more affordable for parents.

“In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever,” Obama said in the State of the Union.

“It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”

Obama’s plan would “make affordable, quality child care available to every working and middle-class family with young children,” according to a White House press release, that says the president is calling for:  Continue Reading »

“During World War II, when men like my grandfather went off to war, having women like my grandmother in the workforce was a national security priority — so this country provided universal childcare. In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new tax cut of up to $3,000 per child, per year.”

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, January 20, 2015

What are the next steps in education reform? Paul Reville, former secretary of education in Massachusetts, answers the question in a recent Boston Globe op-ed.

“When the education reform bill was enacted in the early 1990s, its main goal was to educate all students to high levels. And all meant all,” Reville writes.

Currently a professor of “practice of educational policy and administration” at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Reville has had time to reflect on the state’s challenges and opportunities.

He notes that Massachusetts will have to spend more on “specialized services, including early childhood education.” He also writes that early education is among “the strategies that the state needs to develop over the next few years.”

Read the Globe article to learn more about how Massachusetts can ensure that “all means all.”

To hear Reville discuss “All Means All,” check out this short, informative video. It’s part of Harvard Ed School’s 8 for 8 series.

Reville is also the director of Harvard’s Education Redesign Lab, which “is focused on building a new education ‘engine’ that will ensure economically disadvantaged students have a fair chance of mastering the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the 21st century and of closing historic achievement gaps.”

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

This month, a National Geographic article explores “Baby Brains,” looking at the factors that hinder or help infants’ neurological development.

“Peering inside children’s brains with new imaging tools, scientists are untangling the mystery of how a child goes from being barely able to see when just born to being able to talk, ride a tricycle, draw, and invent an imaginary friend by the age of five,” the article explains. “The more scientists find out about how children acquire the capacity for language, numbers, and emotional understanding during this period, the more they realize that the baby brain is an incredible learning machine. Its future—to a great extent—is in our hands.”

The article adds: “The amount of brain activity in the earliest years affects how much there is later in life.” A picture of the EEG scans of eight-year-olds shows “that institutionalized children who were not moved to a nurturing foster care environment before they were two years old have less activity than those who were.” Again, early nurturing was essential for building brains.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

During last month’s White House Summit on Early Education, the Obama Administration released a new public policy tool, the “Playbook for Becoming an Early Learning Community.”

The playbook offers communities “strategies for local leaders to develop and expand early education in their communities,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s part of the president’s national early learning agenda called “Invest in US.”

The playbook should be a helpful resource to local communities — both here in Massachusetts and across the nation — that are working to improve early learning and kindergarten readiness.

As the playbook explains, “An Early Learning Community works together to deliver measurable improvements in the lives of its youngest children. It provides all Continue Reading »

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., “The Purpose of Education,” in the January-February, 1947, edition of the Maroon Tiger, a Morehouse College literary journal

Quoted in a recent Education Week article, Tomoko Wakabayashi argues that research on preschool and early-childhood education must take the long view — measuring outcomes over time — because key benefits of pre-K programs such as executive function and other noncognitive skills don’t begin to appear until later in life.

Wakabayashi is the research director at the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, the Ypsilanti, Mich.-based center that launched the landmark Perry Preschool Project and studied the impact of this program’s intensive approach to early childhood education.

“Some of the effects that came out, you never would have found them in preschool… If Perry hadn’t followed students for so long, a lot of the discussion around preschool would have been different; there would have been just a fade out of IQ [benefits], and that would have been it.” 

“Schools Seek to Strike a Balance on Rigor in Early Years,” by Sarah D. Sparks, Education Week, January 2, 2015

 

 

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