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“We lead the nation in terms of reading proficiency by fourth graders. Forty-seven percent of our fourth graders are proficient readers. But that means 53 percent are not. And we can’t leave half of our children behind if we want to build a truly strong economy and a healthy society. So we still have a lot of work to do in Massachusetts, but we know how to do it, and we’ve made real progress here…

“There are reasons why we now rank first for overall child well-being. And a big part of that reason is that in Massachusetts we work together. Ordinary citizens, our extraordinary nonprofit community, businesses and labor, child advocates, and our government.”

Noah Berger, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, at the release of the KIDS COUNT Data Book in Boston, July 22, 2014

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Last month, Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill into a law that makes “at least 10 hours a week of high-quality early education available to every 3- and 4-year-old child” in the state, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The new law closes an opportunity gap: while 87 percent of Vermont communities already offer pre-K, 13 percent do not. As Shumlin said, “this bill ensures that no matter where you live, your 3- or 4 year-old will have access to high-quality early education programs, and arrive at school better prepared to learn.”

Shumlin added, “The children who aren’t ready to learn when they begin elementary school are very likely to challenge our resources throughout their school years and potentially throughout their lives.”

“We know that high-quality pre-kindergarten is far less expensive than remediation, retention, and special education later on.”

The payoff of preschool is striking, especially among children from low-income families: “Vermont children from low-income backgrounds who don’t attend pre-kindergarten have a 30 percent probability of being kindergarten ready, while Vermont students from low-income backgrounds with one or two years of pre-kindergarten have up to a 55 percent probability of being kindergarten ready.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

A new report from the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) looks at the past, present and future of education in the commonwealth and calls on policymakers to “unleash greatness.”

The plan for successfully transforming the state’s education system includes several recommendations, one of which is to expand access to high-quality early education. This call adds to the growing chorus of diverse stakeholders supporting pre-k, including business leaders, members of the military and law enforcement, and bipartisan political leaders.

The report, “The New Opportunity to Lead: A Vision for Education in Massachusetts in the Next 20 Years”, sets goals for the years 2016 and 2020, so that by 2030, Massachusetts will be an innovative, global leader in education. The report was authored by Sir Michael Barber, a globally renowned education reformer who has led projects in more than 40 countries. Nearly 200 stakeholders were engaged in interviews, focus groups and workshops to provide input during the development of the report.

The report is “a comprehensive assessment of the commonwealth’s education system, sounding the alarm that student achievement has leveled off and the state risks (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Gateway Cities – the onetime mill and manufacturing towns that helped fuel the economy in Massachusetts – fell on hard times when the industrial era faded.

“Our economic strategy for the past several years has been centered on creating only highly-skilled, high-paying jobs in high-profile cities,” Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish said at a recent Gateway Cities event hosted by the local nonprofit think tank MassINC. “The result has been limited growth throughout the rest of the commonwealth, and a middle class that has been cast aside.”

Now these 26 cities – from Brockton, Lawrence and Lowell to New Bedford, Westfield and Worcester — are making a comeback.

Refusing to be branded as “underperforming,” the Gateway Cites are using a new report to “articulate a vision for effective 21st-century learning systems,” as Mayor Kimberley Driscoll of Salem and Mayor Lisa Wong of Fitchburg explain in the report. Called “The Gateway Cities Vision for Dynamic Community-Wide Learning Systems,” it was released earlier this month by MassINC. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Today is a big day for children and families in Massachusetts and across the country. Strategies for Children applauds Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Congressman George Miller (D-CA), and Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) for their bi-partisan leadership in introducing the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.  This legislation builds on the progress that we have made in Massachusetts under the leadership of Governor Patrick and our state legislators to ensure that our children have the foundation they need to be successful in school and in life.

Over the past decade, the commonwealth has led the country as we put into place a system of high-quality early education for all children, beginning at birth. Yet significant achievement gaps still exist. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many will never catch up. Experts agree that high-quality early education has a lifetime impact on young learners in terms of greater academic readiness and improved social skills.

The research is clear. High-quality early childhood education programs are a sound investment. That’s why we’re making sure Members of Congress hear us loud and clear as they move forward with the budget and now this new opportunity — the Strong Start for America’s Children bill.  Please email your Members of Congress in support of the bill now.

The bill has three main parts:

  • Grants to states to expand high-quality preschool, building on their current state-funded preschool delivery system (there are also grants for states that do not yet invest in or need to raise the quality of their standards for preschool);
  • Grants to create Early Head Start/child care partnerships to improve the quality of and expand access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers; and
  • A call for the expansion of the voluntary home visiting program for infants and toddlers.


Please help us give this bill a solid start by asking your Members of Congress to co-sponsor it.
 The introduction of this historic early learning bill provides an opportunity that we can’t afford to miss. At the same time, as the federal budget is negotiated between the House and Senate, we must fight hard to undo the harsh effects of the sequester and to increase investments in early learning.

Stay tuned for more information and more opportunities for action.

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Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Photo: United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

More than 200 people came to the Boston Children’s Museum last Thursday night to attend “Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates – Early Childhood and Education: Closing the Achievement and Opportunity Gaps.”  Strategies for Children, Boston Children’s Museum, Thrive in 5 and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley cosponsored the event along with 31 other organizations.

Both candidates – City Councilor John Connolly and State Representative Marty Walsh — participated, each on stage separately. Candidates answered questions posed by the night’s moderator, WBZ political reporter Jon Keller, and from the audience, which included early educators, providers, pediatricians, college students, professors of higher education, teachers, advocates, and citizens.

As Carolyn Lyons, the president and CEO of Strategies for Children, explained to the audience in her introduction, the forum builds on the momentum that has been fueled by early education proposals from Governor Deval Patrick and other governors,  the Massachusetts legislature and President Obama’s bold proposal to expand preschool programs nationally.

The candidates were asked to come prepared to articulate their vision for Boston’s children and families and discuss what they would do for children and families should they become mayor. They responded by (more…)

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Mayor Logo

This Thursday, October 24, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., the Boston Children’s Museum hosts a Conversation with the Boston Mayoral Candidates. Jon Keller, WBZ-TV News’ Political Analyst will moderate the conversation.

To retain Boston’s status as an economic leader and hub of innovation in the years ahead, the next Mayor must improve educational outcomes for the city’s children. The achievement gap is evident long before children enter school, and we will not succeed in closing it unless we target resources to improve early learning and healthy child development.

Join us for a conversation with the two candidates running for Mayor and hear more about their vision for children and families in Boston.

This event is sponsored by: Boston Children’s Museum, Strategies for Children, Thrive in 5, and United Way of MA Bay and Merrimack Valley.

Co-sponsors to date include:  ABCD ● Associated Early Care and Education ● BOSTnet  ● Boston After School and Beyond ● Boston Association for the Education of Young Children ● Boston Children’s Hospital  ● Boston Opportunity Agenda ● Boys and Girls Club of Dorchester ● Catholic Charities of Boston  ● Cradles to Crayons ● The Children’s Trust ● Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative ● Ellis Memorial & Eldredge House, Inc ● Families First Parenting Programs ● Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts   ● Family Service of Greater Boston ● Friends of the Children – Boston ● Generations Incorporated ● Horizons for Homeless Children ● Jumpstart ● MA Afterschool Partnership ● MA Association for Early Education and Care ● Massachusetts Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics ● MA Kids Count ● MA Head Start Association ● Raising A Reader MA ● Reach Out and Read ● Room to Grow ● United South End Settlements ● Wheelock College

For more information, please contact tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What do IBM and a group of five-year-olds have in common?  They both have creative minds that could change the world.

That’s why IBM and other companies recognize the value of investing in early education: so today’s young children will have the skills to become tomorrow’s STEM employees (science, technology, engineering and math.)

The link between early education and the business community will be highlighted in a webinar called “Start Early with STEM” that’s being hosted on Monday, August 5, 2013, at 3 p.m. (Eastern time), by ReadyNation, a nonprofit business partnership for early childhood and economic success.

The webinar will cover “the latest early childhood STEM education research and how the business community is supporting the development of early childhood STEM through smart policy advocacy and community initiatives.”

The speakers include: Greg Duncan, a professor of education at the University of California, Irvine; Marcy Reed, National Grid president, Massachusetts; and JD Chesloff, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and the chair of the Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care. (more…)

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Noah Berger, president Mass Budget; Eileen Rudden, founder, Sankaty Growth Partners; John Jackson, president and CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education; John Bissell, executive vice president, Greylock Federal Credit Union. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Noah Berger, president MassBudget; Eileen Rudden, co-founder, LearnLaunch; John Jackson, president and CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education; John Bissell, executive vice president, Greylock Federal Credit Union. Photo: Strategies for Children

“Since the 20-year history of education reform, Massachusetts has emerged as the top ranking state in the nation for overall student performance, but there is still more work to be done to fulfill the promise of a high-quality public education. Future reform efforts should allow for greater differentiation of supports with the end goal of fostering 21st century skills in all students in the Commonwealth.”

 - Representative Alice Peisch, co-chair of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education

It’s time to start a new conversation about education for the children of the commonwealth.

On June 18th, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Education Reform Act of 1993, Strategies for Children began that conversation along with its partners the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE). The three organizations hosted a panel discussion for nearly 100 attendees at the Boston Bar Association to reflect on how far the state has come and discuss the many opportunities that exist for making innovative and meaningful progress.

The state’s work on education reform has made Massachusetts a national leader on standards-based reform – tied to increased funding – that has resulted in the commonwealth leading the way on many key educational benchmarks.  Yet there are still significant, persistent achievement gaps. Schools aren’t meeting the needs of all of our children. And too many students fail to complete high school and college. Meanwhile, the world has changed dramatically over the last two decades, compelling Massachusetts to develop new, innovative ways to bring educational excellence into all our classrooms.

To tackle these issues, the panelists in our discussion called on the state to invest in early education; to reach out to more children, especially those who are struggling to achieve; to look at how technology can improve learning; and to prepare children to succeed in a high-tech economy. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Three hundred business leaders and organizations from 44 states have written a letter to President Obama and members of Congress expressing their support for early education.

“This letter shows that quality early childhood programs are important to more than just parents and schools,” said John Gomperts, president and CEO, of America’s Promise Alliance. The Alliance sponsors ReadyNation, a business partnership for early childhood and economic success.

“Business leaders who signed the letter come from a range of companies such as Delta Airlines, McKinsey & Company and PNC Financial Services Group, as well as major business organizations such as state and local Chambers of Commerce and Business Roundtables,” the alliance explains here.

The letter points to “overwhelming amounts of research and evidence” that show a solid return on investing in young children. The letter adds: “Many of us compete in a global marketplace. We see other countries investing in their young children both for (more…)

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