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Archive for the ‘MA governor’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

As more policymakers become champions of early education, “it’s important to remember that pre-K cannot stand alone – the years before and after pre-K are equally important to children’s development,” Abbie Lieberman writes in a post on New America’s Ed Central blog called, “Why Full-Day Kindergarten is a Key Piece of the Early Ed Puzzle.”

Full-day kindergarten is important, “because research indicates that kindergarteners benefit significantly from a full-day in the classroom. In fact, studies suggest that full-day kindergarten improves academic achievement and can lessen the achievement gap.”

Lieberman adds: “more time in the classroom means more time for high-quality interactions with teachers and peers, which translates to more learning. As Alexander Holt explains in Making the Hours Count: Exposing Disparities in Early Education by Retiring Half-Day vs. Full-Day Labels, ‘Time in a classroom does not guarantee opportunities to learn, but it is a necessary doorway to that opportunity.’ In short, it’s difficult for a child attending kindergarten for two hours a day to realize the same benefits as a child in the neighboring school district who attends for six hours a day.”  (more…)

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Avg wages stagnated

In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) into law, launching an on-going era of bipartisan support for this powerful anti-poverty tool. Since then, EITC has been a substantial benefit for families with young children.

Now a new report from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) looks at what would happen if Massachusetts expanded its own state-level EITC program, which was launched in 1997.

According to the IRS, the federal EITC is “a benefit for working people who have low to moderate income. A tax credit means more money in your pocket. It reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.”

And as MassBudget explains in its report, the Massachusetts’ EITC “is a refundable tax break provided by the Commonwealth to lower-income workers in order to increase the after-tax rewards to work. It is available only to tax filers with earned income and provides benefits primarily to workers with children…”  (more…)

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On Wednesday, March 4, Governor Charlie Baker released his first state budget proposal as governor. In an effort to close a projected $1.8 billion budget deficit, Baker’s $38.1 billion budget limits spending increases to 3%, which is less than projected tax revenue growth of 4.8%. The plan curbs state spending at MassHealth, and provides modest increases for local aid, education, and transportation. To learn more, visit Governor Baker’s budget webpage.

The Department of Early Education and Care and its programs are funded at $529.36 million. Most of EEC’s programs were level-funded relative to FY15 current (post-9C) spending levels, including Access Management, Coordinated Family and Community Engagement grants, UPK grants, and early childhood mental health. The Income Eligible waitlist line item (3000-4040), funded at $15 million in each of the past two fiscal years was not funded, however Supportive Child Care, which provides early education for children referred by the Department of Children and Families, received an increase. The governor’s proposal does not include a rate increase for early educator salaries and benefits. In addition, full-day kindergarten grants were not funded, representing a $18.59 million cut from current fiscal year spending levels.

The Partnership Schools Network line item (7061-9408), a fund to support Level 4 and 5 underperforming schools and districts, saw an increase and new budget language allowing early education and care partnerships as an allowable component of local proposals.

Visit our Early Education for All website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget. Stay tuned for updates in the months ahead as the House and Senate release their budget proposals.

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Jay Gonzalez, Chair of the Board of the Department of  Early Education and Care

Jay Gonzalez

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is asking the Legislature for an additional $45 million for fiscal year 2016. This investment would position Massachusetts to improve the ways that it helps young children succeed in school and life.

Please contact your elected state officials and let them know that you support this request and the progress it seeks to make.

EEC’s FY 2016 proposal is based on a vision of eventually providing high-quality, affordable programs that are available to every young child in the state. These programs would be staffed with well-qualified and well-trained teachers and providers.

“After a long process of evaluating the state of early education and care in Massachusetts and soliciting feedback from stakeholders and the public, the Board of Early Education and Care developed and approved a comprehensive proposal for systemic reform and investment,” Jay Gonzalez, chair of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care, said in a statement. “The Board’s vote establishes a multi-year framework for taking our system of early education and care to the next level.”  (more…)

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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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The Building on What Works Coalition. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The Building on What Works Coalition

A new coalition held an event at the State House last week and asked legislators to create powerful new educational opportunities for children.

The Building on What Works Coalition unites educators, business leaders, and elected officials who want to root out educational inequality and give all the state’s children the educational experiences they will need to thrive in our 21st century economy.

The coalition is calling for the state’s fiscal year 2016 budget to invest $75 million in a fund that communities could use to take one or more of the following steps:

• expand access to high-quality, birth-to-age-5 early learning opportunities

• expand K-12 learning time by making school days or school years longer, and,

• design innovative learning systems that draw on educators’ talents as well as on technology and public resources

The fund would be made available to communities where more than 50 percent of the students served are high-need.  (more…)

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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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