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Earlier this week, President Obama announced that Massachusetts had won a federal Pre-K Development Grant. Here’s what the commonwealth’s Congressional delegation had to say about the award.

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“This federal grant will give more Massachusetts families a chance at high-quality early education for their kids by expanding and strengthening preschool programs in communities across the Commonwealth.”

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren

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“Children who have access to early learning programs are more likely to continue in their education and become productive members of society, and I congratulate Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care for their leadership.”

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey

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“Massachusetts has long led the nation in quality public education. The announcement of new federal funding through the preschool expansion grant competition is recognition of the Commonwealth’s longstanding investment in our young students, and of the innovative work done by our teachers and administrators.”

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas

 

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President Obama hugs Alajah, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit.  Photo: The White House.

President Obama hugs Alajah Lane, the third-grader who introduced him at the summit. Photo: The White House

Yesterday was a historic day at the White House. President Obama hosted an early education summit that included an announcement about increased resources for young children and families.

The White House Summit on Early Education brought together a wide range of stakeholders — mayors, school superintendents, members of Congress, philanthropists, funders, and corporate and community leaders — who shared their work on providing high-quality preschool programs.

And President Obama announced that states had won over $1 billion in early childhood grant awards. The president also announced an additional $330 million in private funding.

“Early education is a win for everyone,” Obama said in his summit speech. High-quality programs give children a strong start and they save taxpayer dollars. And as Obama pointed out, progress has been bipartisan. Red and blue states including Oklahoma and Georgia and New York and New Jersey have boosted their commitment to high-quality preschool.  (more…)

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Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick announced that “Massachusetts is one of 13 grant award winners in the federal Preschool Development Grant: Expansion Grant competition, and will receive significant funding to expand high quality preschool programs in five high-needs communities across the state. These communities are Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell and Springfield.”

Chris Martes

Chris Martes

In response, Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Strategies for Children, we applaud the Patrick Administration and the Department of Early Education and Care for its successful federal grant proposal for pre-kindergarten. This funding will help the commonwealth close the achievement gap by investing in high-quality early learning experiences for some of our neediest children. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many never catch up. High quality pre-k is an evidence-based strategy for closing the achievement gap.

High-quality early education is about starting early to support and develop the whole-child: social/emotional skills, vocabulary, early math, executive function, creativity, and a love of learning. The best pre-kindergarten programs do this, all under the safe and supportive guidance of high-quality, well trained, well compensated early childhood educators.

Children in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield will benefit directly from this grant. In these communities, high-quality programs from across the mixed-provider early education field will provide the pre-K program, and partner (more…)

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Robin Roberts interviewing Michelle Obama at a previously held White House Summit on Working Families. Photo: from the White House's website.

Robin Roberts interviewing Michelle Obama at a previously held White House Summit on Working Families. Photo: from the White House’s website.

Next week, on Wednesday, December 10, 2014, the Obama administration will host a summit on early education. During the event, the president will announce which communities have won grants to help build their preschool infrastructure.

“The summit will bring together a broad coalition of philanthropic, business, education, advocacy, and elected leaders, as well as other stakeholders who are committed to expanding access to high-quality early education,” a White House press release says.

“During the summit, the President will announce the states and communities that will receive $250 million in Preschool Development Grants and $500 million in Early Head Start Child Care Partnership awards to enhance and expand preschool programs and to improve access to high-quality infant and toddler care in high-need communities.”

The president will also “highlight new private sector commitments to expand children’s early learning opportunities.”

The summit builds on the call to expand preschool that President Obama made in his 2013 State of the Union address, in which he said: (more…)

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Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson from the White House Blog

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson from the White House Blog

Last week, federal child care law got an important overhaul: Congress passed the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (CCDBG). And President Obama signed it into law.

In a rare show of political unity, both Democrats and Republicans supported the bill. According to the news website Syracuse.com, “Congress reauthorized the $5.3 billion per year program on Monday with strong bipartisan support for a deal crafted by Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.”

Due for reauthorization since 2002, the new law reflects “input from parents, childcare providers, and early learning and development experts,” this Congressional summary explains.

The law emphasizes “training, professional development, and improvements to health and safety requirements,” the summary says. In addition, the law “focuses on giving families more stability in the CCDBG program by ensuring that children who initially qualify for a subsidy get care for at least a year.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Mississippi recently received troubling news about its youngest children.

A report released last month “revealed that two-thirds of the state’s youngest students enter school unprepared to learn and are, in fact, well below where they should be in terms of literacy,” according to the Cabinet Report article, “Crisis Brewing Among Early Learners.”

Mississippi’s Superintendent Carey Wright “is a staunch advocate of early childhood education but her mission to improve these programs for Mississippi kids has taken on new urgency in the wake of the state’s first assessment of kindergarten readiness,” the article says.

“More than 40,000 kindergarteners from 144 districts throughout the state took the STAR Early Literacy exam during the first month of this school year, according to the Mississippi Department of Education. More than 65 percent of those students scored below the 530 benchmark score that indicates a student has mastered at least 70 percent of early reading skills.

“The state average score was 501.

“The assessment evaluated skills such as the ability to recognize letters and match letters to their sounds and a student’s recognition that print flows from left to right. The exam produced reports for parents and teachers that detail each child’s early reading skills. Teacher reports also include diagnostic information and instructional plans for every student.” (more…)

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“Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. We need better childcare, daycare, early childhood education policies. In many states, sending your child to daycare costs more than sending them to a public university…

“And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development. And sometimes there may just not be any slots, or the best programs may be too far away. And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

President Barack Obama, in a speech on Women and the Economy at Rhode Island College, October 31, 2014

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