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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

How much is a college degree worth? Quite a lot, for students who major in chemical engineering. Their median lifetime earnings are more than $2 million.

But the median lifetime earnings of students who major in early childhood education – about $770,000 — is less than that of any other college major including social work, theology, fine arts and elementary education.

This disappointing news comes from a report — “Major Decisions: What Graduates Learn Over Their Lifetimes” — released last month by the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution.

“Drawing upon data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we examine earnings for approximately 80 majors, focusing on both annual earnings for each year of the career and cumulative lifetime earnings,” the report explains.

Among the key findings:

“Majors that train students to work with children or provide counseling services tend to have graduates with the lowest earnings.” Continue Reading »

“Our most important obligation is to the next generation of Montanans, to ensure they have more opportunities to succeed than we did. It’s time that Montana give every four year-old
access to high-quality, early childhood education that will set them on a path to thrive through their educational career and beyond.”

Montana Governor Steve Bullock unveiling a $37 million early childhood proposal, October 13, 2014

 

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“The conversation on reducing the “word gap” in early childhood has reached new heights: Today the White House Office on Science and Technology is hosting a group of policymakers, researchers, and early childhood advocates to exchange ideas on how to help foster language development. The event is titled ‘Federal, State and Local Efforts to Bridge the Word Gap: Sharing Best Practices and Lessons Learned.'”

“At the White House: Mapping Innovations to Bridge the Word Gap,” Lisa Guernsey, director of the Learning Technologies Project and director of the Early Education Initiative in New America’s Education Policy Program, October 16, 2014 Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As preschool programs around the country grow, parents need to know how to pick the best program for their children.

Take the case of New York:

“Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged that this year’s free pre-K classes would all be ‘high quality.’ But what does that look like?” Amy Zimmer asks in a DNAinfo NewYork article, “9 Signs of a Good Pre-K Program.” 

DNAinfo New York consulted with experts, “including those who’ve spent years in classrooms teaching 4-year-olds as well as professional development experts responsible for training pre-K teachers…”

Here’s the resulting nine-item list of what to look for. Continue Reading »

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The expansion of pre-K programs around the country has raised pressing questions regarding the early education workforce: Are there enough highly skilled preschool teachers to meet policymakers’ goals? If not, how do we develop the workforce we need to meet high standards and expectations? And perhaps most vexing, what should we pay them?

As a new report says, “it is a daunting challenge to ensure that all classrooms, whether in pre-kindergarten or in older grades, are staffed by teachers who are skilled at nurturing children’s curiosity and fostering learning.”

In addition, “It is also an urgently pressing challenge, given the persistent learning gap between children living in poverty and their more advantaged peers, and the poor academic performance of U.S. students on international achievement tests.”

The report — “Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce: Shared and Divergent Challenges in Early Care and Education and in Grades K-12” – was written by Marcy Whitebook, the director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, which is part of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last spring, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh launched the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee to help the city plan how to double the number of 4-year-olds in high-quality, full-day pre-kindergarten programs by 2018.

Now the committee is inviting Boston parents who have young children to help by filling out a Universal Pre-K survey about “their experiences and hopes” and their opinions about the city’s preschool programs, according to the Boston Public Schools’ Early Childhood website.

Supporting this effort, Thrive in 5 — a partnership between the Mayor’s Office and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley — is working with other community partners to “conduct a series of stakeholder focus groups across Boston, and offer online surveys to gather input about the strengths and needs of all of the City’s neighborhoods for high-quality pre-kindergarten.”

Please help spread the word by sharing the link to the survey via email and social media. There are thousands of parents who could fill out the survey, and their input could help shape early education in Boston. Continue Reading »

“If we make high-quality preschool available to every child, not only will we give our kids a safe place to learn and grow while their parents go to work; we’ll give them the start that they need to succeed in school and earn higher wages and form more stable families of their own. In fact, today, I’m setting a new goal: By the end of this decade, let’s enroll 6 million children in high-quality preschool. That is an achievable goal that we know will make our workforce stronger.”

President Barack Obama speaking at Northwestern University, October 2, 2014

An article in Education Week explains what the president’s goal of enrolling six million more children could mean for policymakers.

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month’s release of the 2014 MCAS scores revealed that our third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. Once again, 43 percent of third graders statewide did not score in the proficient range in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark. And as the research shows, the consequences of reading failure at this age are significant.

To change the trajectory of early literacy in Massachusetts, advocates, literacy experts, practitioners, and state policymakers are taking action. The state’s Early Literacy Expert Panel has just released its Year One Annual Report. It’s an early look into the critical work this panel was charged with: providing “recommendations to state education agencies on the alignment, coordination, implementation and improvement of all existing efforts that bear on children’s literacy outcomes, guided by the goal of improving third grade reading outcomes in the Commonwealth.”

Overseen by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education, the panel will ultimately submit its recommendations to the Departments of Early Education and Care (EEC), Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), and Higher Education (DHE). Continue Reading »

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