Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children


Preschool programs are generating a lot of news this month, thanks in part to last week’s State House hearing on a number of early education and care bills — including, “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

Here’s a roundup of the coverage, which appeared in print and on television. As always, be sure to join the conversation on Twitter @EarlyEd4All.

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Luchan por educación pre-escolar para todos (Fighting for preschool education for all) 
Telemundo Bostonby Arianne Alcorta, September 17, 2015

This Spanish language broadcast by Telemundo provides coverage of the State House hearing. It includes interviews with Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera, Joint Committee on Education co-chair Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and Stand for Children member and parent leader Elsa Flores.

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Here’s Strategies for Children’s statement on yesterday’s release of state MCAS scores.

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In Massachusetts, only 60 percent of third graders are proficient readers, according to the 2015 MCAS results released yesterday. (PARCC results are preliminary and cannot be compared directly to MCAS.)

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education notes that for third grade reading, despite a small increase over 2014, “scores have been essentially flat over the past six years.” 

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, commented:

“We are glad to see third grade reading proficiency rates improve slightly, but are troubled by the slow pace of improvement and the fact that scores statewide have remained essentially stagnant since 2001.

To move the needle on this critical benchmark, the state must make larger investments in the birth-to-5 early childhood system. Despite recent state budget increases in early education, Massachusetts’ investment still trails pre-recession spending levels in this area.

Providing high-quality preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, particularly those from low-income families and communities, would be a huge step in the right direction. The Legislature has the opportunity to do that this session, and we hope our lawmakers will pass a comprehensive pre-K expansion bill.

High-quality pre-K is, however, only one piece of the puzzle. Our community-based infant and toddler programs must be staffed by well-trained, well-compensated educators. In the K-3 grades, literacy curriculum, diagnostic assessments, and professional development must be examined closely and aligned with research-based best practices. Parent engagement and after school / out-of-school-time programming are also essential.

As Education Secretary James Peyser recently stated, “In pursuing our shared goals, we cannot afford to treat early education as an afterthought.”

 No matter what test the state adopts, MCAS, PARCC, or some other option, substantially more children will need to meet reading benchmarks by the end of third grade. The future economic prospects of our commonwealth depend on it.

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Last week at the State House, proposed legislation that would expand and improve early education and care received ringing endorsements from a diverse chorus of supporters during a hearing held by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education.

A standing-room-only audience filled Hearing Room B-1 for more than four hours to support a range of early education bills. Parents and early educators as well as policymakers and advocates explained how high-quality programs taught by well compensated teachers would benefit both children and the state at large.

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser testified first, setting the political scene.

“The overarching education objectives of the Baker-Polito administration are to close the achievement gap and strengthen the global competitiveness of Massachusetts’ workforce and economy,” Peyser said.

“In the context of a single gubernatorial term of office, or even two, there is a temptation to focus narrowly on those parts of the public education system where the weaknesses are most pronounced and the ‘return on investment’ is easiest to measure. This short-term bias often inclines policymakers towards a disproportionate interest in reform and improvement within the K-12 system and higher education. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, September 16th, 2015, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for all bills related to early education and care. Among these is “An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education.”

Supported by the “Pre-K for MA” Coalition, which is being led by Strategies for Children (SFC) and Stand for Children Massachusetts, the bill calls on Massachusetts to follow in New Jersey’s footsteps and create high-quality pre-K programs for 3- and 4-year-olds who live in underperforming school districts. The bill was filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

We see the bill’s targeted, phased-in approach as getting us closer to our ultimate vision of high-quality early education for children in Massachusetts.

This proposed legislation would build on the recent history of progress in Massachusetts: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, on Friday, July 17, 2015, Governor Charlie Baker signed the fiscal year 2016 state budget into law. This budget has $162 million in line-item vetoes.

The vetoes include a $5 million reduction in funds for early education and care programs, as well as a $17.6 million reduction for full-day kindergarten grants.

The Legislature can vote to override these vetoes. But legislators need to hear your encouragement.

Please take a moment to send them an email and ask them to support early education funding in fiscal year 2016.

Thank you.

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Monday, June 22, 2015, House and Senate leaders extended Governor Baker’s two-week interim budget into a one-month spending bill intended to cover state spending beyond July 1. According to the State House News Service, the $2.7 billion interim budget bill will fund state agencies and programs for one month based on fiscal 2015 appropriation levels.

The six-member conference committee now has until July 14 to reach a compromise on the larger $38.1 billion spending plan for fiscal 2016. The one-month spending bill takes into account Governor Baker’s allowable 10 days for review and approval of the budget.

Stay tuned for more information while the details of the FY16 annual spending plan are finalized.

Visit our website for a complete listing of early education and care line items in the state budget, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org for more information. 

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Early on Friday, May 22, 2015, the Massachusetts Senate passed a $38.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2016.

During budget debate, senators approved additional funding for the early education and care provider rate reserve, bringing the Senate total to $5.25 million. In addition, an amendment was adopted to establish a new “Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative:” $500,000 to help communities expand preschool access for 3-year-olds. Amendments to restore funding for full-day kindergarten grants were not adopted, leaving the final Senate budget total at $1 million for this grant program.

Visit our website for a full listing of early education line items and how they compare across budget proposals.

The budget now moves to a six-member conference committee which will negotiate differences between the House and Senate FY16 budgets before sending a final budget to Governor Baker. Stay tuned for next steps. 

For more information on early education in the state budget, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org, or (617) 330-7387.

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