There’s good news for young children and families in the fiscal year 2014 budget recommendation that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick released today. It provides details of the substantial increased investments in high-quality early education that he announced last week. He frames his proposals around closing the achievement gap, improving third grade reading proficiency, and enhancing school readiness.
“Third grade literacy is widely regarded as one of the most significant milestones in a child’s academic career, and it is an important predictor of future academic success,” the governor’s budget overview states. “The FY 2014 budget targets increased funding to both early childhood education and programs for English language learners in order to work toward the administration’s goal of universal third grade student proficiency in reading.
“Providing access to high-quality early education programs,” it continues, “is a vital component of addressing the achievement gap.”
Here is a summary of Governor Patrick’s proposals for new investments in early education:
- $56.75 million to “significantly increase access to high-quality early education programs and [to begin a phased plan] to provide universal access by eliminating the wait list for qualified children from birth to age 5 by FY 2017.” It includes $31.6 million for infants and toddlers and $25.15 million for preschool children.
- $30.59 million for Early Education Provider Quality Investments for, budget language states, “a reserve to improve the quality of the commonwealth’s child care system by enabling child care providers to better attract and retain quality staff,” with increases directed to salaries, benefits and professional development. The line item also includes $17.59 million to implement new transportation regulations.
- $30 million for Quality Efforts, for, budget language states, “quality improvement initiatives to ensure the highest educational quality among providers of early education and care and to assist early educators and providers in attaining higher levels of skill and quality as measured by QRIS” (Quality Rating and Improvement System), with the goal of “achieving kindergarten readiness and third grade reading proficiency for every child served.”
- $3.2 million for the Kindergarten Entry Assessment System
- $3 million for Family Engagement to Support Reading Proficiency by Grade 3
- $5 million for Comprehensive Support Services “to increase comprehensive support services for families with children, birth to age 5, in communities with low-performing schools… for the purpose of ensuring that students arrive at school ready to learn and to achieve reading proficiency by grade three.”
(Click here for more information on the governor’s budget recommendation for FY14.)
We issued this statement from Paul O’Brien, chairman of the board of Strategies for Children, and Carolyn Lyons, SFC’s president and CEO:
“Governor Patrick’s budget recommendation presents Massachusetts with the opportunity to solidify its standing as a national leader in education and close the achievement gap by targeting investments where research clearly shows they have the most impact: early childhood. The governor’s plan recognizes the importance of the critical third grade reading benchmark in predicting a child’s chances of future success and recognizes that learning begins at birth. It is a comprehensive plan that builds on the strong foundation laid by the governor and his administration, including Commissioner Sherri Killins of the Department of Early Education and Care and Commissioner Mitchell Chester of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; the Legislature; and educators and leaders across the state who work daily with children and families. In a state where 39% of third graders scored below proficient in reading on the latest MCAS and performance has remained virtually stagnant since 2001, the governor would invest in developing the skills essential to the 21st century workforce. In a state where a wide achievement gap persists and 60% of third graders from low-income families scored below proficient in reading, the governor would close the achievement gap by investing in the early childhood years when the gap is first evident. We applaud the governor for his leadership and look forward to working with the Legislature to increase investments in high-quality early education.”
Massachusetts readers, click here to thank Governor Patrick for his leadership.