“Since 2004, Tennessee has offered state-subsidized prekindergarten, enrolling more than 18,000 of the state’s neediest 4-year-olds. An early evaluation showed that, as you’d expect, youngsters who attended pre-K made substantial gains in math, language and reading. But, startlingly, the gains had evaporated by the end of kindergarten…”

“Have the claims made for early education been overblown? Not necessarily. Consider what’s happening in Boston. A randomized study showed that prekindergartners there gained between four and seven months’ progress in reading and math, and those gains persisted: 27 percent more of Boston’s preschool children scored ‘proficient’ or better on the state’s rigorous third-grade exams.

“What’s the difference between Boston and Tennessee? In a word, quality.”

“Does Pre-K Make Any Difference?” a New York Times opinion piece by David Kirp, professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley, October 3, 2015


Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Holyoke is staging a comeback by building on its existing educational foundation to boost its children’s future success. The city has an ambitious plan for transforming its public school system that relies, in part, on high-quality early education.

Last March, Holyoke’s Mayor Alex Morse knew that his city’s school might go into state receivership. But he also knew Holyoke’s strengths. Writing in MassLive, he explained:

“That we face these problems is no reflection on our teachers and administrators who have worked so hard to improve our schools. On the contrary, the state’s report highlighted many areas where our schools have excelled despite poor systemic conditions. Our award-winning early literacy program has made a difference. Our graduation rate has increased. Our teen pregnancy rate has dropped precipitously. Superintendent Dr. Sergio Paez, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Hyry, and our school committee have laid a strong foundation for future success. Local partnerships have given our kids access to tutoring, after-school programs, and extracurricular activities.”

At the end of April, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did indeed announce that Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) was a Level 5, “chronically underperforming” district. This designation put the schools into receivership. Continue Reading »

Image Source: ReadyNation's Flickr page

Image Source: ReadyNation’s Flickr page


Last week, New York City hosted the 2015 Global Business Summit on Early Childhood Investments.

The summit was “a major gathering of 200+ business people, policymakers, and experts designed to showcase how the private sector is leading the way in advancing early childhood development around the world.”

The event was held by ReadyNation, an organization of business leaders who work to “strengthen business through better policies for children and youth.”

The goal of the summit was to “inspire and equip executives to take actions that expand support for young children at all levels.” Among the themes was a focus on “new evidence that establishes early childhood as the foundation for a culture of health and international leadership for early childhood.”

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, attended the event and said, “The summit clearly shows how excited our business leaders are about investing in young children. Business leaders understand that high-quality early education and care programs help to produce the labor force of the future.” Continue Reading »

“Virtually nobody was against expanding the state’s preschool program, and plenty of research was provided as to benefits of existing programs.

“But the arguments crystallized — and the attendees figuratively caught their breath – when a veteran kindergarten teacher from Freehold came forward with a packet of Week One assessments from some of her new students.

“Randee Mandelbaum’s new students were asked to draw crayon self-portraits and demonstrate how well they knew their letters and numbers. On the left side of the sheets was the work of children who hadn’t been through preschool, and on the right side were those who had.”

“‘You will see one student does not know any letters, cannot write any letters, and doesn’t even know how to write her own name,’ said Mandelbaum, a 20-year veteran. ‘While the other student can write most of the alphabet comfortably.’”

“Kindergarten Kids’ Drawings, Numbers Graphically Show Why Pre-K is Key,” by John Mooney, NJSpotlight.com, September 22, 2015

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Researchers know that child care isn’t just about children. It also has a huge impact on parents and on the economy.

A recent report — “Child Care in State Economics” — says that the strategic use of child care could could help local economies grow.

“Child care can allow parents to participate in the labor force or pursue education or training,” the report’s executive summary says; and “the organized child care industry itself is an integral part of state economies.”

“By providing regular care for 10.7 million children, the organized child care sector continues to serve its traditional role of helping working parents enter and remain in the workforce. Paid care allows one third of U.S. families with a working mother to participate in the labor force. Continue Reading »

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Woodland Early Learning Center. Photo Source: U.S. Department of Education Flickr page

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at the Woodland Early Learning Community School. Photo Source: U.S. Department of Education Flickr page

“As our country continues to move forward on the critical task of expanding access to high-quality early learning programs for all children, we must do everything we can to ensure that children with disabilities are part of that,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said earlier this month while he was visiting the Woodland Early Learning Community School in Kansas City.

“Duncan visited the city public school as the first stop on his annual 10-city Back to School bus tour,” the Kansas City Star reports. “This year’s tour, under the theme ‘Ready for Success,’ was set to highlight the importance of including children with disabilities in high-quality early learning programs and to push the importance of community focus on early childhood education.”

To encourage this work, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have released a “Policy Statement on Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs.” Continue Reading »

In Quotes

“Elementary, secondary and higher education are fixed concepts in the minds of citizens. If we knew then what we know now, our early education system would be every bit as established as its sister sectors in the education continuum.”

Tom Weber, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, testifying at a State House hearing, September 16, 2015

*     *     *

“Our goal is to increase the number of children who enter kindergarten ready to learn and succeed. That won’t happen without a larger state investment in early education. Far too many children, including children from low-income families and those living in our Gateway Cities, don’t have access to high-quality preschool. As of July 2015, there were 17,000 children birth-to-5 on the waiting list for a state subsidy. Let’s level the playing field and give all children the strong start they deserve.”

Chris Martes’ testimony for the September 16, 2015, State House hearing. Martes is the President and CEO of Strategies for Children


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