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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

“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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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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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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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Here’s a great activity for families and for early education and care programs in Massachusetts:

Gather glitter and glue, feathers, mini pompoms, and construction paper.

Ask the children in your lives or programs to use these and other materials to make Rising Stars.

Send the stars to Governor Charlie Baker by Friday, February 13th, 2015. Even sooner is better. His address:

Governor Charlie Baker
State House, Room 280
Boston, MA 02133

Why now? Baker is putting together his state budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, and Rising Stars remind elected officials how important early education and care programs are for closing the academic achievement gap and preparing children for lifelong success.

Massachusetts is facing a significant budget shortfall, so Baker will have to make hard choices. But even in tough financial times, it makes sense to invest in (more…)

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Andy Hargreaves, professor  at Boston College's Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Andy Hargreaves, professor at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

“The moment is ripe for more deliberate action in the early childhood sphere in Massachusetts,” according to a new report from the Rennie Center, a nonprofit organization that focuses on education research and policy.

The annual report — “Condition of Education (COE) in the Commonwealth Report: Priority Actions for a Statewide Agenda” — includes a data report and a policy action guide. Several research and policy organizations, including Strategies for Children, served on the report’s advisory committee.

Rennie released the report at a standing-room-only event at the Omni Parker Hotel that brought together Jim Peyser, the state’s new secretary of education with the chairs of the Boards of the Departments of Early Education and Care; Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education.

The report “highlights what works now,” Pendred Noyce, chair of Rennie’s board, said at the Omni Parker event, explaining that the report points to successful programs that could be replicated to improve educational outcomes across the state. (more…)

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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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