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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

How much is a college degree worth? Quite a lot, for students who major in chemical engineering. Their median lifetime earnings are more than $2 million.

But the median lifetime earnings of students who major in early childhood education – about $770,000 — is less than that of any other college major including social work, theology, fine arts and elementary education.

This disappointing news comes from a report — “Major Decisions: What Graduates Learn Over Their Lifetimes” — released last month by the Hamilton Project, an economic policy initiative at the Brookings Institution.

“Drawing upon data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, we examine earnings for approximately 80 majors, focusing on both annual earnings for each year of the career and cumulative lifetime earnings,” the report explains.

Among the key findings:

“Majors that train students to work with children or provide counseling services tend to have graduates with the lowest earnings.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

The expansion of pre-K programs around the country has raised pressing questions regarding the early education workforce: Are there enough highly skilled preschool teachers to meet policymakers’ goals? If not, how do we develop the workforce we need to meet high standards and expectations? And perhaps most vexing, what should we pay them?

As a new report says, “it is a daunting challenge to ensure that all classrooms, whether in pre-kindergarten or in older grades, are staffed by teachers who are skilled at nurturing children’s curiosity and fostering learning.”

In addition, “It is also an urgently pressing challenge, given the persistent learning gap between children living in poverty and their more advantaged peers, and the poor academic performance of U.S. students on international achievement tests.”

The report — “Building a Skilled Teacher Workforce: Shared and Divergent Challenges in Early Care and Education and in Grades K-12” – was written by Marcy Whitebook, the director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, which is part of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. (more…)

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The Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) has an engaging video series on its website called “8 x 8” that gives viewers access to the latest thinking on education policy.

“As part of the Bold Ideas & Critical Conversations event on September 19, eight HGSE faculty members were each given eight minutes to discuss research-based ideas that will have a big impact on the field,” the website explains.

It’s like a mini collection of TED talks on education.

The eight faculty members who speak are:

- Karen Brennan, whose research looks at how learning communities can support young people as designers of interactive media

- Howard Gardner – senior director of Harvard’s Project Zero

- Tom Kane – faculty director of the Center for Education Policy Research

- Nonie Lesaux, author of “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” a report commissioned by Strategies for Children

(more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What’s the best way to teach children to read? The answers can spark heated debates.

That’s what happened in New York City when Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña called for “more schools to adopt aspects of balanced literacy, including its emphasis on allowing students to choose many of the books they read,” according to the New York Times. Balanced literacy programs use both phonics and whole language techniques to teach reading.

Addressing the debate, CUNY’s Institute for Education Policy hosted a discussion last month (now posted on YouTube) called “Teaching Children to Read: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.” It featured both Catherine Snow, an esteemed expert on children’s language and literacy development and currently a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Susan Neuman, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education and an education professor at New York University. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This weekend, Wheelock College will host the annual meeting of MenTeach–New England, a nonprofit clearinghouse of information on men working in education, with an emphasis on early childhood education.

The event details:

Saturday, September 27, 2014 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hawes Building – Ladd Room
Wheelock College, 43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA

“This is our biggest meeting of the year and we invite men and women who support men in early childhood education, but also men and women from throughout New England,” the national website of MenTeach explains.

“MenTeach was started in 1979 in Minnesota, United States to increase the number of men working with young children. The organization was started because Bryan G. Nelson understood the importance of teaching and wondered, ‘If teaching is so important, then where are all the men?’” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Looking for insights on how to improve K-12 education? Consider the lessons offered by the early childhood education field, Joan Wasser Gish advises in a recently published Education Week commentary called “Four Lessons from Early Education.”

Wasser Gish is a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care as well as the principal at Policy Progress, a public-policy consulting firm based in Newton, Mass. And from 2005 to 2006, she was Strategies for Children’s director of policy and research.

There are “four lessons that elementary and secondary education could draw from the early-childhood sector as leaders seek to build P-16 systems and re-imagine schools capable of helping all children attain the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy and society,” Wasser Gish writes. These lessons are:

 1. Expand the mission by engaging families.

“In high-quality early-childhood-education settings, the mission is to serve children and their families. This mission takes different forms in each community, but the federal Head Start program, which serves low-income, at-risk children across the nation, is illustrative: Head Start emphasizes developing relationships with families to support parents as their child’s first teacher and promote positive parent-child interactions.” (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

“Early education is in the spotlight like never before… yet real progress is elusive,” according to a report being released today by the New America Foundation called: “Beyond Subprime Learning: Accelerating Progress in Early Education.”

“President Barack Obama has repeatedly called for increased investments in child care, pre-K, home visiting, and other programs,” the report says. “Thirty-five states entered the federal Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge grants competition, which has so far invested about $1 billion in 20 states’ infrastructure. A long-overdue reauthorization bill for the Child Care and Development Block Grant overwhelmingly passed the Senate this year, with potential in the House.”

In addition, the report notes that philanthropies, governors, and state legislatures increasingly recognize the importance of investing in children.

Nonetheless, the report says, achievement gaps have widened. There aren’t enough seamless transitions from pre-K to grade school. Too many low income children aren’t getting the support they need. And Congress isn’t providing stable funding. (more…)

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