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Spring Break

The blog is on vacation.  Happy spring break.  We’ll see you next week.

Boston Strong

This morning our thoughts and hearts are with the individuals and families who suffered most during last year’s tragic bombing. 

 We also celebrate the strength, healing and resilience of Greater Boston: the people who live in this city, the people who love this city, and the people near and far who stood with Boston on one of its darkest days.

 Finally, we welcome the bright optimism of this new year. There are few happier signs of spring than the joyful, determined, and, in some cases, wildly costumed runners of the Boston Marathon.

 Good luck to all the runners and to all who cheer for them. No matter the obstacles, Boston runs valiantly forward.

In Quotes

“The critical importance of early education in a student’s performance later in school has been well-established in recent years…”

Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board, April 14, 2014

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Last month, Boston EQUIP — the Early Education Quality Improvement Project— released two reports on the quality of early childhood programs in Boston:

- Community Profiles 2013, a comprehensive online survey of early education providers in Boston, and

- the Boston Quality Inventory (BQI) 2013, an in-depth study of program quality conducted at a sample of home-based and center-based early education and care programs

 These reports present crucial data that help inform and advance the policy conversation about how to improve program quality. Research shows that early education programs must be high-quality in order to see lasting positive impacts on children’s development.

Launched in 1994, Boston EQUIP is “a project of Associated Early Care and Education with a broad goal and mission – to collaborate with members of the Boston early education community to systematically evaluate, set goals for, and improve upon the quality of early childhood programs,” according to a press release. The project is aligned with Boston’s Thrive in 5 School Readiness Roadmap, which “sets goals and strategies for strengthening, coordinating and improving the quality of child and family-serving systems in the city, in order to prepare children to succeed in school.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for

A new education initiative called Future Ready Massachusetts offers parents insights about how to prepare their children for college and careers. It’s a smart way to make sure that parents are in the know about what their children need to succeed.

“Being Future Ready means having the knowledge, skills and attitudes to complete whatever education and training you need to achieve your goals in school, work and life,” the website explains.

The Future Ready campaign has two goals:

 1. to increase the number of students who succeed in their colleges and careers, and

2. to build community and family support to encourage students to complete a rigorous course of study that prepares them for better opportunities after high school.

 Future Ready is a collaboration between the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education in partnership with many other organizations across the commonwealth. Continue Reading »

On April 9, the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2015 state budget proposal. The recommendation includes $515.25 million for the Department of Early Education and Care and its programs, which is less than Governor Patrick’s proposal, and a modest increase relative to FY14 appropriation levels. More resources are needed for high-quality early education, and your voice can make a difference.

Massachusetts readers – Contact your state representative today to support early education amendments to the state budget, and help secure additional funding for young children’s early learning and school readiness.

Legislators have filed several amendments to the Ways and Means budget that would devote significant additional funding to early education and care. These include amendments for serving additional children on the state’s Income Eligible waitlist, creating new pre-kindergarten classrooms in underperforming districts, increasing early educator salaries and benefits, and many more. See below for a list of amendments.

The House begins debating the state budget on Monday, April 28. Contact your representative today! For more information on the FY15 budget, please visit our website.

 

Early education and care amendments to the House FY15 Budget:

 

#900 Early Childhood Education Waitlist – Rep. Livingstone lead sponsor.
Increases Income Eligible waitlist support by $7.5 million, which would provide early education access to an additional 1,250 children currently on the state’s waitlist.

#923 K1 Classroom Grant Program and Universal Early Education in Underperforming School Districts – Rep. Decker lead sponsor.
Provides $2.5 million for new local grants to expand pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds in underperforming districts. Grants would be developed jointly by the Department of Early Education and Care and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

#941 Early Education and Care Salary Rate Reserve – Reps. Chan and Binienda lead sponsors.
Provides $22.6 million for early educator salaries, benefits, and professional development, through a rate increase for subsidized early education and care programs.

#1012 Full Day Kindergarten Transition Funding – Rep. Dykema lead sponsor,
#767 An Amendment For Kindergarten Expansion Grants – Rep. Kuros lead sponsor, and
#813 Kindergarten Expansion Grants – Rep. Hecht lead sponsor.
These amendments increase funding for grants to school districts to provide high-quality full-day kindergarten.

#356 Early Education & Care Administration – Rep. Peisch lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $409,000 for administrative support at the Department of Early Education and Care.

#758 Parent Child Home Program – Rep. Keenan lead sponsor.
Restores a $2 million cut under House Ways and Means to line item 3000-7050, funding critical Early Education and Care programs for family engagement and educator professional development.

#413 DEEC-DCF Transportation Monitors and Case Management – Rep. Kocot lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $21.1 million for a transportation rate adjustment to fund adult monitors on vehicles transporting children in the department of children and families caseload.

#517 Childcare and Referral Services Amendment – Rep. Naughton, Jr. lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $1.4 million for early education and care resource and referral agencies.

#782 DEEC – Early Education and Child Care Services for TAFDC Families – Rep. Khan lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $3 million for early education and care access for children in eligible families.

#812 Head Start – Rep. Schmid lead sponsor.
Increases state support for Head Start and Early Head Start by $1.9 million.

#914 DEEC Supportive Early Education and Child Care – Rep. Khan lead sponsor.
Provides an additional $1.5 million for early education and care access for eligible children.

#958 Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) – Rep. Decker lead sponsor.
Provides $2.5 million for the information technology costs of implementing a quality rating improvement system for early education and care in the commonwealth.

#771 Foundation Budget Review Commission – Rep. O’Connell lead sponsor.
For a commission to review calculation methods for the foundation budget for education, including calculations for preschool programs for all 3 and 4 year-olds and full-day kindergarten among other priority areas.

 

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“All children should have guaranteed access to high-quality, publicly funded full-day K each day of the school week if they are to meet the learning and work-force challenges of the 21st century,” according to the Children’s Defense Fund, a national advocacy organization.

But across the country, full-day kindergarten is only available to some children, while others only get two or three hours a day.

A recent Washington Post article pointed to the “time crunch” of half-day kindergarten, noting, “Mary Waldman began her career teaching kindergartners how to hold a pencil and write their ABCs. Fifteen years later, she is teaching Loudoun County students to read books and write stories. While academic expectations have grown exponentially over the years, the length of the school day has stayed the same: Three hours.”

The Post adds, “About 75 percent of kindergartners nationwide are enrolled in full-day programs, three times the rate of a few decades ago, as many school districts have come to view kindergarten as an academic starting point, rather than a practicing ground for the rhythms and routines of school. But that leaves about a million students for whom kindergarten still lasts just a few hours a day.” Continue Reading »

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