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Archive for the ‘K-12’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Play is making a comeback in kindergarten classes located in the Maryland suburb of Pasadena, according to a recent New York Times article, “Kindergartens Ringing the Bell for Play Inside the Classroom.”

But support for play varies based on class-related ideas about what children need most: more play or more academics.

Describing Pasadena’s new approach to play, the Times writes:

“Mucking around with sand and water. Playing Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders. Cooking pretend meals in a child-size kitchen. Dancing on the rug, building with blocks and painting on easels.

“Call it Kindergarten 2.0.”

“Concerned that kindergarten has become overly academic in recent years, this suburban school district south of Baltimore is introducing a new curriculum in the fall for 5-year-olds. Chief among its features is a most old-fashioned concept: play.”

Some teachers are excited about the new approach.

“But educators in low-income districts say a balance is critical,” the Times notes. “They warn that unlike students from affluent families, poorer children may not learn the basics of reading and math at home and may fall behind if play dominates so much that academics wither.” (more…)

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Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Jim Peyser. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

How do you make progress in education reform? By tackling the tough question of how to pay for it.

This was the topic yesterday at the Union Club in downtown Boston where the Building on What Works Coalition hosted a panel discussion called “Financing Education Reform: The Next Chapter.”

“Time is of the essence in making progress,” Tripp Jones said, welcoming the audience of nearly 150 people. “We felt it was important to say, look, there are communities ready to move,” on education reform. They just need access to funding.

Jones is a board member and the co-founder of the nonprofit think tank MassINC, which is part of the Building on What Works Coalition along with Massachusetts 2020, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, and Strategies for Children.  (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“Robert D. Putnam is technically a Harvard social scientist, but a better description might be poet laureate of civil society,” a book review in the Sunday New York Times says. The review is of Putnam’s latest book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.”

Putnam’s book examines the inequality gap in the United States, drawing on both Putnam’s personal experiences and his academic research.

Putnam explains his work in an interview with PBS’ NewsHour, touching on a range of topics including poverty, persistent achievement gaps, and early education.

Here’s a selection of quotes from that interview. The bold emphasis is ours.

“America’s best investment ever, in the whole history of our country, was to invest in the public high school and secondary school at the beginning of the 20th century. It dramatically raised the growth rate of America because it was a huge investment in human capital. The best economic analyses now say that investment in the public high schools in 1910 accounted for all of the growth of the American economy between then and about 1970. That huge investment paid off for everybody. Everybody in America had a higher income.”  (more…)

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Educators in West Michigan are tackling third grade reading proficiency by pooling their resources to form the Reading Now Network Initiative. And a recently conducted field team study suggests that intensive efforts are paying off.

Reading proficiency is also getting attention from Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who has called for new efforts to boost reading outcomes.

West Michigan’s Efforts

Launched last year, Reading Now is “the collective effort of superintendents, school boards, [and] local and intermediate school districts throughout West Michigan to improve early literacy and, ultimately, student achievement across all grade levels,” according to a fact sheet(more…)

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Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Schools

Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Schools

We’re excited to congratulate Boston’s newly named school superintendent, Tommy Chang. He supports early education and creative instructional efforts that draw on local resources.

“I think he is a quiet visionary,” Michael O’Neill, chair of the Boston School Committee, told the Boston Globe.

“Dr. Chang will provide the leadership that our school system needs, and I am confident that his innovative views on education will move our students forward,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. “We need a transformative leader, and that is Tommy Chang.”

The Globe adds, “Chang, 39, has been working for the last three years with more than 130 low-achieving schools as an instructional superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Intensive Support and Innovation Center.

“With his experience in the country’s second-largest school district, Chang has gained a reputation for a quick mind, collaborative approach, and a strong conviction that schools should have the flexibility to experiment.” (more…)

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“Central to a healthy economy, now and in the future is an educated workforce. Building on the achievements of the Ed Reform law, now more than two decades old, there’s still work to be done.

“We have long recognized that education doesn’t start in elementary school and end at high school graduation: To that, I’m proud of our ongoing efforts to help make higher education more affordable for Massachusetts’ students and their families including our community colleges which are playing an ever increasing role in training the workers of tomorrow.

“In addition, we know the benefit of helping our youngest children. This session, we will devise our own plan to further provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children. Not only is a renewed commitment to early education and care vital to the current economy by helping working parents– it’s vital to our children’s future.”

Robert DeLeo, Speaker of the Massachusetts House, in his address to the House of Representatives, February 11, 2015 (emphasis ours)

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Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo Source: Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

Once they were elected, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito asked a bipartisan transition committee to look at state operations.

Now the transition committee has released a report that summarizes their findings and recommendations in five areas:

– economic growth and jobs

– a great education for every child

– a healthcare system that works

– safer, stronger communities, and,

– a better state government we can be proud of

The report provides guidance for the Baker-Polito administration. So take a look and let the governor and lieutenant governor know what you think.

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign, served on the transition committee’s education policy advisory group.

“It was an honor and a pleasure to serve on the committee.” O’Leary said. “It is critical that early education and care be represented in these ‘big picture’ discussions about the state’s priorities in the years ahead.”  (more…)

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