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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Elementary and Secondary Education’ Category

State HouseOn Tuesday, Governor Baker announced his administration’s plan to close a mid-year state budget gap of $768 million. To do this, the governor relies on non-tax revenue adjustments as well as “9C cuts” to reduce fiscal year 2015 spending levels for nearly 300 line items. Baker explains his approach in a press release.

How did early education fare?

Overall, Baker reduced the Department of Early Education and Care’s budget by $5.5 million, including: a $2.1 million cut to the TANF access account; a $1 million cut to Head Start; a $1 million to Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grants; and $750,000 from the new K1 classroom grant program. EEC administration, Access Management, and waitlist reduction funds were also cut by smaller amounts.

In addition, Full Day Kindergarten grants were cut by $5 million. These quality grants are managed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and fund para-professional salaries, program curriculum, professional development, and other activities.

In light of these cuts, your advocacy will be critical as our state legislators debate the fiscal year 2016 budget.

So please participate in Rising Stars 2015 and send a message to Governor Baker and your state legislators today.

Stay tuned for more advocacy opportunities: Our policymakers need to hear from all of us. Together, we can advocate for and secure the investments in high-quality early education that will provide bright futures for the commonwealth’s young children.

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Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Governor Charlie Baker has chosen all the members of his cabinet, including James Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education. Peyser heads the Executive Office of Education.

As the Boston Globe reports, Peyser has a great deal of experience in education and government. He is a former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and a former education advisor to Governors Weld and Romney.

Peyser was also the executive director of Baker’s transition team, and he “recently worked at NewSchools Venture Fund, described on its website as ‘a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education for low-income children.’”

The Globe adds this comment from Charlie Baker: “I saw firsthand Jim’s experience and leadership improving public education throughout his career and during our time together on the state Board of Education… I look forward to the innovation and devotion Jim will bring to our administration as we work to give our children and their parents a greater voice in their education.”  (more…)

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Andy Hargreaves, professor  at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Andy Hargreaves, professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“The moment is ripe for more deliberate action in the early childhood sphere in Massachusetts,” according to a new report from the Rennie Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education research and policy.

The annual report — “Condition of Education (COE) in the Commonwealth Report: Priority Actions for a Statewide Agenda” — includes a data report and a policy action guide. Several research and policy organizations, including Strategies for Children, served on the report’s advisory committee.

Rennie released the report at a standing-room-only event at the Omni Parker Hotel that brought together Jim Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education with the chairs of the Boards of the Departments of Early Education and Care; Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education.

The report “highlights what works now,” Pendred Noyce, chair of Rennie’s board, said at the Omni Parker event, explaining that the report points to successful programs that could be replicated to improve educational outcomes across the state. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What do you think young children need to develop strong social/emotional and learning skills?

Let the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) know.

EEC is holding three public hearings in Boston, Brockton, and Worcester to get public feedback on a draft of proposed social-emotional learning standards.

Called the “Pre-School and Kindergarten Standards in the domains of Social-Emotional Development and Approaches to Play and Learning,” the draft can be downloaded by clicking here.

The need for standards is clear. As the draft explains: “The preponderance of outcomes from both research and evidence-based practice clearly show the strong connection between social and emotional learning, academic learning, and success in life. In fact this synergistic development of social and emotional and academic skills promotes and facilitates higher order thinking.”  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

To set state funding for K-12 public schools, Massachusetts relies on the Chapter 70 Program. Created by the Education Reform Act of 1993, and first implemented in fiscal year 1994, Chapter 70 uses a formula that “has two goals: adequacy and fairness,” according to a 2013 report from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DOE).

A fact sheet from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) adds, “The Education Reform Act also served as the Legislature ‘s response to the State Supreme Court case McDuffy v. Secretary of the Office of Education, which found on behalf of a group of students from communities with low property values that the state was not living up to its obligation to provide an adequate public education to all children in the state.”

Over the years, however, critics have challenged both the fairness and the adequacy of Chapter 70. And while the calculation of each district’s foundation budget is “updated each year to reflect inflation and changes in enrollment,” the formula at the heart of the foundation budget calculations has not been updated for over a decade.

Now, thanks to a provision in the fiscal year 2015 budget, a Foundation Budget Review Commission has been set up to review the formula.

Advocates around the state can participate by attending one of a series of public hearings that the commission is hosting around the state. One hearing was (more…)

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reading to

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Family Literacy Month is sponsored by the Massachusetts Family Literacy Consortium. To learn more about how to “raise a reader” and for other information, check out this Department of Early Education and Care web page.

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“We must continue to encourage families to support reading and literacy every day, as education is Massachusetts’ calling card. Teaching children the love of reading is opening the door to their future, and we must all get behind these efforts throughout the year.”

Governor Deval Patrick, in a press release from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, November 7, 2014

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“Teaching children to read and to love reading creates the foundation for future successes in the classroom. I encourage all children and parents to find a subject they love and read everything and anything they can.”

Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, in the November 7th, 2014, press release

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“Through their multigenerational reach, family literacy programs play a critical role in the state’s effort to close academic achievement gaps and strengthen the workforce. By equipping parents with literacy knowledge, family literacy programs empower parents to support their child’s learning and development, which is good for families and our society as a whole.”

Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber, in the November 7th, 2014, press release

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

How can policymakers help struggling schools turn around? One answer is to expand high-quality preschool programs, so that year after year, “underperforming” schools are consistently enrolling more children who are ready to learn and succeed.

What makes early learning so powerful? It “addresses a significant issue that to date no other turnaround strategy has tackled: [that] the gaps turnaround schools aim to address emerge well before kindergarten entry,” according to a recent report from the Ounce of Prevention Fund and Mass Insight Education called “Changing the Metrics of Turnaround to Encourage Early Learning Strategies.”

Too often, the report says, the strategic importance of helping children access high-quality preschool is being overlooked as education leaders scramble to meet short-term accountability deadlines for children who are already in elementary school.

The Challenge of Turnaround Schools

At September’s meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, department staff gave a presentation on the status of the four Level 5-designated schools in the commonwealth — two are located in Boston, one is in Holyoke, and one is in New Bedford. (more…)

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