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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

What makes a high-quality preschool or out-of-school-time space?

Lots of things, including natural light and fresh paint; engaging spaces where children can play, read, or try on hats and costumes; a good heating and cooling system; easy access to fully equipped outdoor play spaces; and modern, functional bathrooms.

Unfortunately, a 2011 report from the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF) revealed that a number of early education and out-of-school-time programs were located in problematic spaces. Deficiencies ranged from holes in the ceiling and leaking toilets to poor air quality and outdoor play spaces that were really just parking lots.

Thanks, however, to the advocacy work of CIF and others, the Massachusetts Legislature used the 2013 Housing and Community Development Bond Bill to create the new $45 million Early Education and Out of School Time (EEOST) Capital Fund(more…)

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Chris Martes

Chris Martes

Chris Martes, Strategies for Children’s president and CEO, has a new article out in the latest edition of CommonWealth Magazine.

In “A chance to lead on early education,” Martes writes that Massachusetts can be a national role model by building strong pre-K programs. This would prepare more children for lifelong success and set an example for other states.

“From the White House to business boardrooms to the offices of scores of Republican and Democratic mayors, governors, and members of Congress, we’re seeing historic momentum on expanding and improving preschool programs,” Martes writes.

“It is in this spirit of historic potential that we welcome Gov. Charlie Baker to the State House. He and his team have the opportunity to break new ground.”

Pre-K Helps Improve K-12

“The Commonwealth needs strong K-12 schools. But having served for nearly two decades as a school superintendent and as an interim superintendent in five Massachusetts communities, I can tell you that K-12 schools cannot reform education on their own,” Martes explains. “There’s too much work to do. Too many achievement gaps are already in place on the first day that children walk into kindergarten.  (more…)

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“Our actions will be heard in many ways. But the loudest of these actions will initially be in dealing with an immediate budget deficit, building a job-creating economy, closing the achievement gap, confronting opiate addiction and revitalizing our urban centers.”

Governor Charlie Baker in his inauguration speech, January 8, 2015

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“Consider this: If we were to put the right policies and resources in place we can make sure every child born is given the support he or she needs, from prenatal care to early childhood education to quality schools and higher education opportunities free of crushing debt, we could transform the Commonwealth in a generation. In a quarter century, we could dramatically diminish many of the problems that saddle both individuals and the Commonwealth as [a] whole: chronic unemployment, workforce shortages, lack of opportunity. In their place: a generation of fully employed, prosperous young people, imbued with a sense of opportunity and possibility. A generation sharing in our collective prosperity.”

Massachusetts State Senator President Stanley C. Rosenberg’s address to the State Senate, January 7, 2015

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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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