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President Obama. Photo: The White House

President Obama. Photo: The White House

President Obama has sent his budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 to Congress. It’s his final budget, and in it he calls for wise investments in early childhood programs.

A White House fact sheet says, “The Budget aims to ensure that children have access to high-quality learning starting at birth by:”

• “Expanding access to quality child care for working families.”

• “Cutting taxes for families paying for child care with a credit of up to $3,000 per child.”

• “Increasing the duration of Head Start programs, while maintaining access to Head Start.”

• “Supporting universal preschool.”

• “Investing in voluntary, evidence-based home visiting.” And,

• Investing “in early learning for children with disabilities.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

This month in the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein makes a strong case for battling social inequality by investing in high-quality early education and care.

Bernstein was Vice President Biden’s chief economist, and he is currently a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The title of his article is: “The biggest public policy mistake we’re continuing to make, year after year.” The article’s tagline adds: “By not investing in quality early childhood education, we’re leaving vulnerable kids behind and lots of future benefits on the table.”

Bernstein’s reasoning:

“It is widely agreed that while we do not seek equal outcomes in America, we do aspire to equal opportunity, at least in theory,” he writes in the Post. “We have, however, never come close to that ideal, particularly as regards minorities and those with few resources. A great way to correct that is to invest more national resources in early childhood education.” (more…)

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Senator Stan Rosenberg. Photo source: Senator Rosenberg's Facebook page.

Senator Stan Rosenberg. Photo source: Senator Rosenberg’s Facebook page

Children will be getting new attention from the Massachusetts Senate. Last week, the Senate announced that it’s launching a new initiative called Kids First that will work to improve the lives of the commonwealth’s children.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) told Boston Herald Radio that Kids First will be an effort to boost children’s resiliency and help them “become productive adults.”

Rosenberg named a group of senators who will “look at everything from education and nutrition to public health, housing and workforce development for ways to help the state’s youngest residents,” according to an AP story that ran in the Washington Times. (more…)

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“From education to energy to transportation; from economic development bills that focus on diverse regions and industries to our nationally-heralded gun safety legislation; we are known in Massachusetts and this House for pairing bold ideas with commitment to collaboration. We also know that excellence — the historic excellence that makes Massachusetts a national model in areas like education — is achieved by laying groundwork for continuous improvement over time. Although we recognize that we’re facing some real financial constraints, the House will keep its focus on our most precious resource: our children. 

“We have one shot to get this right. And we will. That’s why more than a decade ago, members of this House had the insight to create the first-in-the-nation Department of Early Education and Care [EEC]. Access to high-quality early education provides short and long-term benefits that not only impact an individual, but impact our society as a whole: everything from kindergarten readiness, to financial independence, to widespread economic health, to incarceration rates. We will seek ways to improve and revitalize the Massachusetts EEC framework in a responsible, sustainable and forward-looking way. We will help build a system that early educators, parents, and, most of all, our children, deserve. To do so, we will enhance our three-tiered strategy which places a premium on building a strong workforce to ensure improved access to high-quality EEC programming.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) in a speech made to members of the Massachusetts House, January 27, 2016

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Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: State of Massachusetts website.

Governor Charlie Baker. Photo: State of Massachusetts website.

Yesterday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker released a $39.6 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2017.

“This year’s budget sets the table for fiscal responsibility and a strong economic environment, without raising taxes or fees on our hardworking families,” Baker said in a press release. Baker is also trying to close a $635 million budget gap.

This proposal “continues the multi-year effort of bringing state spending in line with revenues, significantly reducing the state’s reliance on one-time solutions, and budgeting for a sizable deposit into the stabilization fund.” (more…)

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Chad d'Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center. Photo: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

Chad d’Entremont, executive director of the Rennie Center. Photo: Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy

 

“Cognitive and non-cognitive skills are inextricably linked,” Harvard’s Nonie Lesaux said during a panel discussion at the Condition of Education event hosted by the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.

There’s a growing consensus in education that children can’t develop strong cognitive skills without non-cognitive “soft skills” such as focus, persistence, and getting along with others. Indeed, the two categories of skills may be more linked than we realize.


 

Last week, the Rennie Center released the findings of its 2016 “Condition of Education in the Commonwealth” report at an event in Boston’s Omni Parker House Hotel. This year’s report focused on social-emotional learning, a hot topic among educators, parents, and researchers. The topic was so hot that #COE2016 was trending on Twitter during the event.

Covering education trends from birth to college and beyond, Rennie’s work includes a focus on high-quality early education. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Newly announced grants from the state of Massachusetts will help 13 cities and towns “develop strategic plans for providing high-quality preschool to more children in their community.”

The grant program — the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative — will invest $500,000 to help communities design “a collaborative, public-private partnership model for providing high-quality preschool that is aligned with Massachusetts’ Preschool Expansion Grant program.”

As Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber explains, the grants help communities build upon their existing programs.

The grant recipients are: Athol, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. The grant amounts range from $22,000 to $40,000. (more…)

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