Specifically, Ed Blog asked that the candidates: “Tell us how you see early childhood education fitting into the larger education pipeline and what you have been able to do in your career to expand or improve or raise awareness about early childhood care and education (for children from birth through age five). Since every candidate has been in some position of power in his/her career already, please do not focus on what you WILL do, but what you HAVE done.”
Ed Blog also asked candidates to answer its readers’ questions, which covered the full spectrum of education, including how to help low-income parents find tutoring, afterschool and summer programs and how to support students who live in public housing.
Listed in alphabetical order, here is a sample of what the seven candidates who responded had to say. Please go to the Ed Blog’s Cradle to Career Learning post to read their full responses.
Boston residents, be sure to vote in the primary on Tuesday, September 24, 2013. The top two candidates will advance to the general election, which will be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.
“I believe we must create an educational system that supports all Bostonians from birth through career, bringing learning to life throughout our city, across all times of the day and year-round,” Barros writes.
When he was the executive director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Barros oversaw the effort to “achieve universal school readiness for every child age zero to five” by forming “a multi-stakeholder Early Learning Network effort called Dudley Children Thrive (DCT).” DCT has organized “a team of residents, families and organizations to unify and support parents as First Teachers in an effort to help prepare our youngest residents for school readiness and success.”
DCT’s efforts include strengthening early language and literacy development and improving the quality of early education programs.
“We need to work with children in the zero to five age group and not wait for them to arrive in school already behind. When it comes to formal early childhood education, beginning at age three, the question is not, ‘can we afford it?’ but rather, ‘can we afford not to do it?’” Connolly writes. He calls for strengthening and replicating existing programs, including Smart from the Start and Thrive in 5.
As chair of the City Council’s committee on education and as part of the coalition supporting the Quality Choice Plan, Connolly says that he has “pushed for strategic alignment of K0 and K1 to ensure access for more low-income students.”
Along with his colleague, City Councillor Ayanna Pressley, Connolly writes that he called on the Boston Public School system to expand their work on socio-emotional learning. He has also called for “a fully inclusive early childhood school at the Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester.”
“Every family has dreams and goals for their children from the time they are born,” Consalvo writes. He says that families and city government can help children develop the skills they need.
“We must however be especially vigilant to identify students for whom Early Intervention and early childhood education such as K0 and K1 especially are essential to their development and future success in school,” because of such factors as special needs, language needs and socioeconomic challenges.
Consalvo says that he regularly works “directly with parents to support the fight to expand early childhood program availability throughout the city.”
As mayor, Consalvo says he would promote children’s success in a number of ways, including health and wellness programs to make sure children are ready to learn.
Charlotte Golar Richie
“As the mother of two girls educated in the Boston Public Schools and a long-time community organizer, I believe access to early childhood education is fundamental to achieving our goal of providing every child equal opportunities for success in public education,” Golar Richie writes.
She points to President Obama’s $750 million budget proposal for early education as one potential source of funds for states to create more access to high-quality programs for children. “Since Boston is already considered a national model by many for our high-quality pre-k curriculum, my focus as mayor would be to ensure that we pursue this new funding and use it to expand the number of available seats across our various neighborhoods.”
“Education is the key to giving kids a pathway to success, and to ensuring that we can continue to grow our economy,” Ross writes.
“We need to expand pre-k and early childhood education in communities with struggling schools, with the long-term goal of guaranteeing preschool for every child in Boston. We all know that the number one thing that we can do to dramatically improve our education system is to fully invest in early education – especially among lower-income Bostonians who do not have the resources to send their children to private early ed centers,” Ross explains.
“How do we optimize the health, education and life possibilities of each newborn as well as the entire family and community? This is the question I have worked to address on a daily basis for more than three decades as founder and CEO of Codman Square Health Center,” Walczak writes. As co-founder of the Codman Academy Charter Public School, he helped set up K1 and K2 classes located within the Codman Square Health Center to promote the strong educational background that correlates with good health outcomes.
At Codman Square Health Center, Walczak says he was a leader in creating a “holistic, medical home model of prenatal and pediatric care, including pioneering group visits for pregnant patients. This innovative approach combines health care, nutrition and parent education for pre-natal through pediatric visits. Women may choose to have extended visits with a group of peers and health care professionals, which include medical as well as nutritional and parenting counseling.”
Yancey cites the many studies that confirm the “the importance of early childhood education” in guaranteeing children’s future success. As a Boston city councillor, Yancey says he has been “an avid supporter of early childhood education programs and private day care providers throughout my 30-year political career…” He has fought to “make sure the administration’s annual budget allocates funding to ensure the provision of early childhood education for Boston children.”
Yancey has donated thousands of new books from his Charles C. Yancey Book Fair to Head Start students, Boston Public School students and children in local day care centers.
Walsh released his plan for early education after the Boston Ed Blog feature was published. As he explains on his campaign’s website, “There is no greater equity issue than ensuring that all students start kindergarten with foundational skills and ready to learn.”
Walsh’s plan: “As Mayor, I will double the number of full-day K1 seats for four-year olds in four years. I will work to ensure that every Boston Public School is a high quality school, and the road to a high quality school begins with access to a quality K1 program. I have a four-part plan for addressing this challenge.”
1) Increase K1 funding.
2) Create more K1 seats in neighborhoods where children live.
3) Collaborate with libraries, community organizations and nonprofits to expand programs that educate parents about kindergarten readiness.
4) Prepare principals and teachers for the expansion of programs to ensure that all four-year-olds are taught by licensed teachers who are knowledgeable in K1 standards.