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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

This month in the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein makes a strong case for battling social inequality by investing in high-quality early education and care.

Bernstein was Vice President Biden’s chief economist, and he is currently a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The title of his article is: “The biggest public policy mistake we’re continuing to make, year after year.” The article’s tagline adds: “By not investing in quality early childhood education, we’re leaving vulnerable kids behind and lots of future benefits on the table.”

Bernstein’s reasoning:

“It is widely agreed that while we do not seek equal outcomes in America, we do aspire to equal opportunity, at least in theory,” he writes in the Post. “We have, however, never come close to that ideal, particularly as regards minorities and those with few resources. A great way to correct that is to invest more national resources in early childhood education.” (more…)

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“Pennsylvania is home to nearly 300,000 3- and 4-year-olds. Last year, only about 1 in 6 of these young learners was enrolled in publicly funded, high-quality pre-k — a statistic that has been relatively unchanged in recent years. Even more troubling is that 70 percent of the approximately 175,000 preschool children at risk of school failure due to economic reasons missed out last year on this once-in-a-lifetime learning opportunity.

“We all pay for those missed opportunities, and Pennsylvania needs to do more to broaden access to high-quality pre-k, particularly for those children at greatest risk of academic failure. These are children living in households below 300 percent of the federal poverty level ($72,750 per year for a family of four), have disabilities that affect their learning, or for whom English is a second language.”

From the report “The Case for Pre-K in PA,” January, 2016

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Detroit Child Care from IFF CDFI on Vimeo.


 

The Kresge Foundation is investing a generous $20 million to improve early childhood outcomes in the city of Detroit.

The five-year initiative will focus on five areas, according to Kresge’s website:

  1. “Investments in new, comprehensive early childhood centers;
  2. Below-market loans to improve current early childhood development facilities and to improve maternal healthcare services;
  3. Grants to support neighborhood early childhood collaborations and early childhood practitioners;
  4. Investments that draw national early childhood experience and expertise to Detroit; and
  5. Formation of a leadership alliance co-supported with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that will bring together stakeholders from across all sectors in Detroit to create a strategic investment and action framework for the city’s youngest children”

(more…)

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Martin Luther King Jr. at a press conference at Gracie Mansion in New York. By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Dick DeMarsico, via Wikimedia Commons.


 

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” Speech, August 28, 1963

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“We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all…”

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, January 12, 2016

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Kelly Kulsrud. Photo courtesy of Lectio.

Kelly Kulsrud. Photo courtesy of Lectio.

First, the bad news: We are sad to announce that Kelly Kulsrud, our director of reading proficiency, has left Strategies for Children (SFC).

The great news, however, is that Kelly has become a co-founder and the executive director of Lectio, an organization that builds on our efforts to boost literacy outcomes for children in Massachusetts. As Strategies for Children continues to grow its community-level work, we look forward to partnering with Kelly in her new role at Lectio.

Lectio is the Latin word for reading. And the organization’s goal is to apply the best research and thinking to the hands-on work of supporting children’s reading—in communities, districts, and states.

“Despite great promise and tireless efforts, most children’s literacy programs and services produce only negligible effects,” Lectio’s website says. (more…)

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“Our bottom line is a sense of urgency and we know that you all feel it,” Elizabeth Burke Bryant, the executive director of Rhode Island KIDS Count, said last week at the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (CGLR) New England Regional meeting. “The sense of urgency is greater than ever.”

The problem: too many children cannot read proficiently.

As CGLR says on its website, the country faces a challenge: “Reading proficiency by third grade is the most important predictor of high school graduation and career success. Yet every year, more than 80 percent of low-income children miss this crucial milestone.”

The good news: “We’re starting to see communities produce results,” Ron Fairchild, a senior consultant at CGLR, said at the meeting.

Indeed, the issue of early reading proficiency is compelling more and more communities to join the effort – 232 local communities are now members of CGLR’s national network, up from an initial cohort of 124 when the campaign launched in 2011.

Held at Worcester Technical High School, the meeting was an opportunity for 70 participants from four states to share the effective work that’s being done around the country to boost children’s reading skills. (more…)

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