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Archive for the ‘Full-day kindergarten’ 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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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Education Week magazine has released its Quality Counts 2015 report. It is a sweeping collection of articles and data that provide a thorough look at the educational opportunities and challenges that the country faces.

The subtitle of this year’s report is “Preparing to Launch: Early Childhood’s Academic Countdown,” highlighting the report’s focus on early education research and practice at the national, state, and local levels.

Noting in a press release that “support for early-childhood education has become a rare point of consensus along the ideological and political spectrum,” EdWeek points out that this consensus is only a starting point. There are still “disagreements over funding strategies and policy approaches threaten to unravel tenuous alliances that have bridged the partisan divide.”

Specifically, the report looks at how “new academic demands and accountability pressures are reshaping the learning environment for young children and the teachers and administrators serving them.” Education Week journalists explored:

- the policy debates surrounding publicly funded programs
– cutting-edge research on the early years, and,
– the academic and technological challenges that await the nation’s youngest learners  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This post was originally published on November 25, 2013.

“The time is now to redesign this country’s approach to language and literacy instruction, and governors who choose to can lead the charge,” according to the National Governors Association (NGA) report, “A Governor’s Guide to Early Literacy: Getting all Students Reading by Third Grade.

Acknowledging the fact that only one-third of America’s fourth graders are reading proficiently, the report points out that America’s governors can help address this challenge. They can build a bridge between knowledge and action, connecting what researchers know to what policymakers do.

What the Research Says

To provide the research background on the literacy issue, the report points to three widely accepted research findings:

1. “Starting at kindergarten is too late.” Because literacy skills start developing at birth and because achievement gaps show up early, infants, toddlers and preschoolers need effective, high-quality early education and care programs that introduce early literacy concepts.
(more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Parents, mayors, governors, and President Obama are all talking about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and about how they can help children become proficient third grade readers.

But with all this energy and action, it can be easy to lose sight of how, specifically, policymakers can have a positive impact in these areas.

That’s why the Education Commission of the States has put together a guide for policymaker’s, an A to Z primer on early education called “Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade.”

It’s a “reference guide for policymakers and their staffs on the most commonly requested topics from preschool to third grade,” according to the guide’s executive summary.

The guide says, “the primary programs and strategies policymakers have inquired about include: (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

In “An Open Letter to My Son’s Kindergarten Teacher,” Phillip Kovacs outs himself as one of those parents.

“You know, the ones who are constantly checking in, perhaps over protective to a fault,” Kovacs writes in his letter, which ran last month in the Huffington Post.

Then, as if he were at the world’s most uptight cocktail party, Kovacs unfurls his resume.

“In my defense I feel like I know a bit more about this whole school thing than most parents. Having taught kids and now teaching teachers, I have learned a good deal about what goes on in classrooms nowadays.

“There is also the matter of me teaching university courses that deal with educational policy (yuk!) and educational psychology (wow!). Did you know that most of our current educational policy flies in the face of science?”

Stick with Kovacs, though, and you hear something important.

“Neuroscience, for example, tells us no two brains are alike, which makes me wonder why we are trying to make all of the children common.”

And one of the brains that Kovacs is wondering about is his son’s.

Kovacs’ son “can count to ten when we are counting Angry Birds, but he has some trouble with transfer. Everything above 12 is a mystery to him, but he’s eager to discover what goes on up there!” (more…)

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State HouseOn Sunday, June 29, the six-member budget conference committee released its fiscal year 2015 state budget. At stake was $32 million in funding differences between House and Senate proposals for early education and care programs. The final version invests approximately $25 million of that amount in early education.

The $36.5 billion FY15 budget includes more than $534 million for early education and care, including $15 million in new spending for serving children on the state’s Income Eligible waiting list, a $6.57 million rate reserve for early educator salaries and benefits, and a new $1 million pre-k classroom grant program. Core quality support programs were preserved with level funding, including Universal Pre-K grants, Full-Day Kindergarten, and the Early Childhood Educator Scholarship.

This budget represents the largest funding increase for early education since 2008. Your collective advocacy for investments in young children made it possible!

The Legislature passed the budget on Monday afternoon, which is now sent to Governor Patrick who has 10 days to review and sign it into law or make vetoes. A $4.6 billion interim budget will keep the government funded through July.

Massachusetts readers: Contact Governor Patrick today and ask him to sign the FY15 budget into law.

Visit our website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org for more information.

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Kindergarten is changing, according to a recent Education Week article called “The Case for the New Kindergarten: Challenging and Playful.”

Not only are more children enrolled in kindergarten — nationally, 56 percent of children attended full-day kindergarten in 1998, compared to 80 percent today (and 88% in Massachusetts) — but kindergarten classrooms “are also far more academically oriented.”

“Our research shows that most kindergarten teachers now think academic instruction should begin in preschool and indicate that it’s important for incoming kindergartners to already know their letters and numbers. Today’s kindergarten teachers are spending much more time on literacy and expect their students to learn to read before first grade.”

The article was written by Daphna Bassok, an assistant professor of education and public policy at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, Amy Claessens, an assistant professor at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago, and Mimi Engel, an assistant professor of public policy and education at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. (more…)

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