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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

“Minnesota could be among the first states in the country to offer free, full-day early learning programs for every 4-year-old – that is, if a proposal from Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Senate becomes law this session.”

“Governor and Legislators: Send Every Child to Preschool,” a press release from the office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, March 20, 2015

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“We have already seen the tremendous successes of all-day kindergarten, which got underway just this year… But we have a lot more work to do to narrow Minnesota’s achievement gap, and provide excellent educations for every student in Minnesota. That work has to start now, and it must begin with our youngest learners.”

Governor Dayton, March 20, 2015

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Donna Housman makes an important case for “Doing Early Childhood Education Right,” in a recent opinion piece that she wrote for WBUR’s Learning Lab, which reports on innovation and reform in education.

A psychologist who founded the Beginnings School in Weston, Mass., Housman calls for maximizing investments in early childhood by using evidence-based approaches.

She highlights Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, noting that he “has identified expansion of early education as one of his top three priorities for the current legislative session, and recently called on the state to ‘provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children.’”

“On the face of it, the speaker’s call to action should generate little opposition, except perhaps over the question of how he intends to fund this expansion,” Housman writes. “But there is in fact a growing backlash against early childhood education, with critics arguing that there is scarce evidence supporting pre-K; that the benefits of pre-K dissipate quickly or that early childhood education’s benefits redound mainly to lower-income students.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Here in Massachusetts, the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants your opinion.

EEC is holding two public hearings on its adoption of the WIDA Early English Language Development Standards (E-ELD) for children who are 2.5 to 5.5 years old.

As EEC says on its website, the E-ELD Standards are designed to:

• “help guide lesson planning to ensure that the different linguistic needs of dual language learners [DLLs] are being met”

• support dual language learners as they reach their next level of English Language Development

• inform decisions about class composition, staffing, curriculum, and assessment in programs that serve dual language learners, and

• help programs that serve dual language learners to make better use of EEC’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)

The E-ELD Standards are aligned with K-12 English Language Development Standards, and as WIDA explains:

“Specific consideration has been given to the nature of early language and cognitive development, family and community-based socio-cultural contexts for language learning, and the psycholinguistic nature of second language acquisition in preschoolers who are still developing the foundational structures and rules of language.”  (more…)

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Photo source: Mayor Bill de Blasio's Flickr account

Photo source: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Flickr account

“With the clock ticking down, about half of the allotted seats available in New York City for pre-kindergarten classes have been filled up,” CBS News reported yesterday. “More than 37,000 families have signed up for pre-K since enrollment began last week.”

“Families have until April 24 to enroll for fall classes.”

This impressive enrollment is the result of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to vastly expand pre-K in his city.

As we blogged last year, de Blasio “put preschool in the news by calling for a universal program for all 4-year-olds funded by tax increases. What New York City got was a political compromise: state funding to launch the mayor’s plans.”

But this was enough for de Blasio to turn his plans into action. And last September, a New York Times editorial praised the mayor’s efforts, saying:

“The start of public school on Thursday in New York City should be the usual merry scramble of chattering children and stressed (or relieved) parents. There will also be something new: a fresh crop of 4-year-olds, more than 50,000, embarking on the first day of free, full-day, citywide, city-run prekindergarten.

“It’s worth pausing to note what an accomplishment this is. Fifty thousand is a small city’s worth of children, each getting a head start on a lifetime of learning. It is so many families saving the cost of day care or private prekindergarten. It is a milestone of education reform.”  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Texas is taking a hard look at its preschool program. The Lone Star state serves some 225,000 children, making it the biggest program in the country. But progress on quality lags.

“Though the program continues to grow in size, efforts to improve funding and program quality have stalled,” according to a press release from NIEER’s State of Preschool 2013 report. “The state ranks 30th out of 41 states providing pre-K for state spending per child, and meets only two of NIEER’s 10 quality standards benchmarks.” They are:

• having comprehensive early learning standards, and,

• providing teachers with at least 15 hours per year of in-service training

“The state currently pays for half-day pre-kindergarten for students from low-income, English-language learning, military and foster families. That comes to about $800 million a year,” the Texas Tribune reports(more…)

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In Quotes

“With so much discussion and debate going on about how to improve our nation’s schools, we must also be thinking of smart, proven ways to invest in children’s development that are more than just corrective steps. And nowhere can we make a smarter investment than in the earliest years – birth to age 5, before children enter the K-12 system – so that children are primed and ready to succeed the moment they set foot in a kindergarten classroom. Parents, business leaders and elected officials are galvanizing around the notion that investments in high-quality early childhood education are a proven means of setting children on the right academic and developmental path, and also a smart financial investment.”

“Early Childhood Education Is Critical for our Own Kids’ Future — and the Nation’s,” a Huffington Post blog by Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, March 18, 2015

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children (MassAEYC) is holding its 11th annual spring conference — “Children: A Link to Our Future” — on March 27th and 28th, 2015.

The event will be held at the Westford Regency Inn & Conference Center, located at 219 Littleton Road, in Westford, Mass. And registration has been extended until tomorrow.

The conference’s keynote speaker will be Lisa Murphy, an early childhood specialist and the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc., a company that provides workshops and training sessions.

Murphy’s topic is “Many Kinds of Smart! Understanding the Theory of Multiple Intelligences.”

“Think you are good at your job because you love children?” the conference brochure asks in its description of Murphy’s presentation. “What about the ones that challenge you?”

Using these questions as a framework, Murphy “puts her own spin on Howard Gardner’s classic theory.”

“By providing easy to implement, yet possibly challenging, ‘comfort zone stretchers,’ Lisa challenges teachers to make sure they are celebrating all of the children in the classroom, not just the ones they like.” (more…)

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