In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) into law, launching an on-going era of bipartisan support for this powerful anti-poverty tool. Since then, EITC has been a substantial benefit for families with young children.
Now a new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) looks at what would happen if Massachusetts expanded its own state-level EITC program, which was launched in 1997.
According to the IRS, the federal EITC is “a benefit for working people who have low to moderate income. A tax credit means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.”
And as MassBudget explains in its report, the Massachusetts’ EITC “is a refundable tax break provided by the Commonwealth to lower-income workers in order to increase the after-tax rewards to work. It is available only to tax filers with earned income and provides benefits primarily to workers with children…” Continue Reading »
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“Minnesota could be among the first states in the country to offer free, full-day early learning programs for every 4-year-old – that is, if a proposal from Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Senate becomes law this session.”
“Governor and Legislators: Send Every Child to Preschool,” a press release from the office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, March 20, 2015
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“We have already seen the tremendous successes of all-day kindergarten, which got underway just this year… But we have a lot more work to do to narrow Minnesota’s achievement gap, and provide excellent educations for every student in Minnesota. That work has to start now, and it must begin with our youngest learners.”
Governor Dayton, March 20, 2015
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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children
Donna Housman makes an important case for “Doing Early Childhood Education Right,” in a recent opinion piece that she wrote for WBUR’s Learning Lab, which reports on innovation and reform in education.
A psychologist who founded the Beginnings School in Weston, Mass., Housman calls for maximizing investments in early childhood by using evidence-based approaches.
She highlights Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, noting that he “has identified expansion of early education as one of his top three priorities for the current legislative session, and recently called on the state to ‘provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children.’”
“On the face of it, the speaker’s call to action should generate little opposition, except perhaps over the question of how he intends to fund this expansion,” Housman writes. “But there is in fact a growing backlash against early childhood education, with critics arguing that there is scarce evidence supporting pre-K; that the benefits of pre-K dissipate quickly or that early childhood education’s benefits redound mainly to lower-income students.” Continue Reading »
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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children
Here in Massachusetts, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants your opinion.
EEC is holding two public hearings on its adoption of the WIDA Early English Language Development Standards (E-ELD) for children who are 2.5 to 5.5 years old.
As EEC says on its website, the E-ELD Standards are designed to:
• “help guide lesson planning to ensure that the different linguistic needs of dual language learners [DLLs] are being met”
• support dual language learners as they reach their next level of English Language Development
• inform decisions about class composition, staffing, curriculum, and assessment in programs that serve dual language learners, and
• help programs that serve dual language learners to make better use of EEC’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
The E-ELD Standards are aligned with K-12 English Language Development Standards, and as WIDA explains:
“Specific consideration has been given to the nature of early language and cognitive development, family and community-based socio-cultural contexts for language learning, and the psycholinguistic nature of second language acquisition in preschoolers who are still developing the foundational structures and rules of language.” Continue Reading »
Posted in Dept. of Early Education and Care, English language learners, Pre-kindergarten, QRIS, Standards and curriculum | Leave a Comment »
Photo source: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Flickr account
“With the clock ticking down, about half of the allotted seats available in New York City for pre-kindergarten classes have been filled up,” CBS News reported yesterday. “More than 37,000 families have signed up for pre-K since enrollment began last week.”
“Families have until April 24 to enroll for fall classes.”
This impressive enrollment is the result of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to vastly expand pre-K in his city.
As we blogged last year, de Blasio “put preschool in the news by calling for a universal program for all 4-year-olds funded by tax increases. What New York City got was a political compromise: state funding to launch the mayor’s plans.”
But this was enough for de Blasio to turn his plans into action. And last September, a New York Times editorial praised the mayor’s efforts, saying:
“The start of public school on Thursday in New York City should be the usual merry scramble of chattering children and stressed (or relieved) parents. There will also be something new: a fresh crop of 4-year-olds, more than 50,000, embarking on the first day of free, full-day, citywide, city-run prekindergarten.
“It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. 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 »
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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children
Texas is taking a hard look at its preschool program. The Lone Star state serves some 225,000 children, making it the biggest program in the country. But progress on quality lags.
“Though the program continues to grow in size, efforts to improve funding and program quality have stalled,” according to a press release from NIEER’s State of Preschool 2013 report. “The state ranks 30th out of 41 states providing pre-K for state spending per child, and meets only two of NIEER’s 10 quality standards benchmarks.” They are:
• having comprehensive early learning standards, and,
• providing teachers with at least 15 hours per year of in-service training
“The state currently pays for half-day pre-kindergarten for students from low-income, English-language learning, military and foster families. That comes to about $800 million a year,” the Texas Tribune reports. Continue Reading »
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“With so much discussion and debate going on about how to improve our nation’s schools, we must also be thinking of smart, proven ways to invest in children’s development that are more than just corrective steps. And nowhere can we make a smarter investment than in the earliest years – birth to age 5, before children enter the K-12 system – so that children are primed and ready to succeed the moment they set foot in a kindergarten classroom. Parents, business leaders and elected officials are galvanizing around the notion that investments in high-quality early childhood education are a proven means of setting children on the right academic and developmental path, and also a smart financial investment.”
“Early Childhood Education Is Critical for our Own Kids’ Future — and the Nation’s,” a Huffington Post blog by Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, March 18, 2015
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