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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

Stephanie Sanchez, of Stand for Children, and Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Stephanie Sanchez, of Stand for Children, and Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

This isn’t just the season for holiday shopping. Now that Election Day has passed, it’s also a great time for advocates to reach out to policymakers – including the newly elected officials who will be sworn in next month — and make the case for prioritizing birth-through-third-grade learning.

“Start now and lay a foundation,” Amy O’Leary, the director of our Early Education for All Campaign, said at a post-election strategy meeting that Strategies for Children (SFC) held on Tuesday. Attended by 30 local leaders in early education and care, the meeting took place at the Nurtury Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain.

What to Say: Crafting a Message 

Write to local leaders — or call, email, and Tweet. Congratulate them on winning their elections, O’Leary advised, and encourage them to focus on expanding and improving education for the commonwealth’s youngest children. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

To set state funding for K-12 public schools, Massachusetts relies on the Chapter 70 Program. Created by the Education Reform Act of 1993, and first implemented in fiscal year 1994, Chapter 70 uses a formula that “has two goals: adequacy and fairness,” according to a 2013 report from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DOE).

A fact sheet from the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) adds, “The Education Reform Act also served as the Legislature ‘s response to the State Supreme Court case McDuffy v. Secretary of the Office of Education, which found on behalf of a group of students from communities with low property values that the state was not living up to its obligation to provide an adequate public education to all children in the state.”

Over the years, however, critics have challenged both the fairness and the adequacy of Chapter 70. And while the calculation of each district’s foundation budget is “updated each year to reflect inflation and changes in enrollment,” the formula at the heart of the foundation budget calculations has not been updated for over a decade.

Now, thanks to a provision in the fiscal year 2015 budget, a Foundation Budget Review Commission has been set up to review the formula.

Advocates around the state can participate by attending one of a series of public hearings that the commission is hosting around the state. One hearing was (more…)

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Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo from Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

On January 8, 2015, Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito will be sworn in as the next governor and lieutenant governor of the commonwealth.

To prepare, Baker has been assembling a transition team to review the state’s public policy needs. So it’s a great time for early educators, program leaders, advocates and parents to talk to this emerging mix of bi-partisan leaders about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and early literacy.

Polito, a former state representative, will chair the transition team. And Jim Peyser will lead the transition team. Peyser served as the former chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education and as a special adviser to Governor William Weld.

A State House News article posted on WBUR’s website reports that Baker has created the following committees:

• Schools
• Jobs and the Economy
• State of the State
• Better Government
• Community
• Human Resources, and
• Healthcare

The schools committee will be co-chaired by: (more…)

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Next Tuesday, November 4, 2014, is Election Day in Massachusetts. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To preview your ballot, go to the website of Secretary of State William Galvin and enter your home address.

 Galvin’s office has also posted information about the four statewide ballot questions that voters will be asked to vote “Yes” or “No” on.

For more information about how to advocate for young children and families this election season, visit our Election Year webpage.

And please vote. It’s one of the most potent forms of public policy advocacy there is.

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Photo: Courtesy of Jay Gonzalez

Photo: Courtesy of Jay Gonzalez

The Massachusetts Board of Early Education and Care has a new chairperson: Jay Gonzalez, a Cleveland native and the former secretary of administration and finance for Governor Deval Patrick. Gonzalez is also president and CEO of CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts.

“Our best opportunity to close achievement gaps is to provide all children with a strong start,” Patrick said in a press release announcing that Gonzalez and Katie Joyce were joining the Board. “Jay and Katie bring to the board diverse experiences and knowledge that will help further the good work already underway with the Board of Early Education and Care to ensure success for all students.” Joyce is vice president for Policy and Domestic and International Government Relations at Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Gonzalez replaces JD Chesloff, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, who became board chair in 2009 and will remain as a board member. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The gubernatorial election is heating up and as the candidates debate the issues, early education is getting plenty of well-deserved attention.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, it will be up to voters to pick the next governor, but once they do, we’ve got good advice for the man or woman who gets elected.

A Strategies for Children brief called, “Early Education Policy Opportunities for the Next Governor,” provides essential next steps that Massachusetts should take.

Massachusetts is a leader in early education. In 2005, the state established the Department of Early Education and Care. In 2010, the state won a federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grant. And thanks to years of work, the state has built a foundation for a system of high-quality early education that aligns with the K-12 system. (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of Laura Healy

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Healy

Strategies for Children is happy to welcome Laura Healy, our new research and field associate, to the staff. Although Laura’s official first day on the job was last Tuesday, she’s already spent a year working for Strategies as a Boston College intern.

A June 2014 graduate of Boston College and a native of Long Island, NY, Laura arrived on campus with an interest in elementary education and English.

“I envisioned myself in the classroom being a teacher in first, second, or third grade,” she explained in a recent interview.

To this end, Laura has worked as a teacher’s assistant for the infant/young toddler room of the Brookline Schools Staff Children’s Center; and she was a tutor for third and fourth graders of the Read Boston afterschool program at Saint Columbkille Partnership School.

But as her college education progressed, Laura found herself attracted to the world outside the classroom. She majored in English and Applied Psychology and Human Development, which allowed her to focus on a broader range of mental and emotional issues and their affect on the way children learn and develop. (more…)

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