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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

Photo Source: Charlie Baker's Facebook page.

Photo Source: Charlie Baker’s Facebook page.

“Governor-elect Charlie Baker is seeking advice. Lots of it,” the Boston Globe reported earlier this month.

“On Thursday, he announced a long list of people who will serve on his advisory transition committees on schools, jobs/economy, community, health, and better government.

“The multitude — more than 170 people in all — include big-names in the worlds of academia, business, and nonprofits…”

As we’ve blogged before, this is a great time for advocates to reach out to Baker’s transition team members and ask them to prioritize early education and care.

“It’s a good idea, and I’m glad to hear that the governor-elect is following that pattern,” the Globe quotes John Walsh saying about the large size of Baker’s transition team. Walsh was Governor Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign manager. Having a large team works “because it just gives an opportunity, as you’re embarking on this, to hear from [many] different folks.”

We’re glad to report that one of the members of the schools committee is Strategies for Children’s (SFC) Amy O’Leary, director of our Early Education for All campaign. The committee co-chairs are Marty Meehan, the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and Beth Anderson, CEO of Phoenix Charter Academy Network. (more…)

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Yesterday, Governor Deval Patrick announced that “Massachusetts is one of 13 grant award winners in the federal Preschool Development Grant: Expansion Grant competition, and will receive significant funding to expand high quality preschool programs in five high-needs communities across the state. These communities are Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell and Springfield.”

Chris Martes

Chris Martes

In response, Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Strategies for Children, we applaud the Patrick Administration and the Department of Early Education and Care for its successful federal grant proposal for pre-kindergarten. This funding will help the commonwealth close the achievement gap by investing in high-quality early learning experiences for some of our neediest children. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many never catch up. High quality pre-k is an evidence-based strategy for closing the achievement gap.

High-quality early education is about starting early to support and develop the whole-child: social/emotional skills, vocabulary, early math, executive function, creativity, and a love of learning. The best pre-kindergarten programs do this, all under the safe and supportive guidance of high-quality, well trained, well compensated early childhood educators.

Children in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield will benefit directly from this grant. In these communities, high-quality programs from across the mixed-provider early education field will provide the pre-K program, and partner (more…)

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Stephanie Sanchez, of Stand for Children, and Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Stephanie Sanchez, of Stand for Children, and Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

This isn’t just the season for holiday shopping. Now that Election Day has passed, it’s also a great time for advocates to reach out to policymakers – including the newly elected officials who will be sworn in next month — and make the case for prioritizing birth-through-third-grade learning.

“Start now and lay a foundation,” Amy O’Leary, the director of our Early Education for All Campaign, said at a post-election strategy meeting that Strategies for Children (SFC) held on Tuesday. Attended by 30 local leaders in early education and care, the meeting took place at the Nurtury Learning Lab in Jamaica Plain.

What to Say: Crafting a Message 

Write to local leaders — or call, email, and Tweet. Congratulate them on winning their elections, O’Leary advised, and encourage them to focus on expanding and improving education for the commonwealth’s youngest children. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children. Turkey by Rylie Robinson

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children  Turkey by Rylie Robinson

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“We know that grateful kids are happier [and] more satisfied with their lives.”

Jeffrey Froh, Hofstra University Psychology Professor, in the Washington Post article, “Teaching kids to be grateful may have long-term benefits even though it’s not easy,” November 21, 2011

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“…perhaps the biggest political opportunity for both parties lies in the nonpartisan issue of early childhood education.”

A memo from Jim Messina, a former campaign manager for President Barack Obama, and Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney during the 2012 election; on behalf of the First Five Years Fund, November 10, 2014

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“Happy Thanksgiving!”

The Staff at Strategies for Children, November 26, 2014

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Parents, mayors, governors, and President Obama are all talking about the importance of high-quality preschool programs and about how they can help children become proficient third grade readers.

But with all this energy and action, it can be easy to lose sight of how, specifically, policymakers can have a positive impact in these areas.

That’s why the Education Commission of the States has put together a guide for policymaker’s, an A to Z primer on early education called “Initiatives from Preschool to Third Grade.”

It’s a “reference guide for policymakers and their staffs on the most commonly requested topics from preschool to third grade,” according to the guide’s executive summary.

The guide says, “the primary programs and strategies policymakers have inquired about include: (more…)

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Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children, issued the following statement today:

“On behalf of the Board of Directors and staff of Strategies for Children, congratulations to Governor-elect Charlie Baker. Upon taking office, Governor-elect Baker will have a critical opportunity to help close the achievement gap through increased access to high-quality early education.

Massachusetts is well-poised to solve some of the most difficult challenges in education. Chief among these is the achievement gap. Research shows that this gap takes root as early as 18 months of age, and often persists throughout children’s academic career. Here in Massachusetts, despite incremental progress in narrowing the achievement gap across grades and subjects, large gaps remain, particularly in early literacy.

To close the achievement gap, we must start early. We must act on the latest early childhood research and make increased investments in high-quality early education. This means adequately funding early education and care in Massachusetts, and affording all children under age 5 the opportunity to attend high-quality programs that prepare them well for success in school and beyond. Currently, far too many children do not have that opportunity, particularly in our Gateway Cities.

We look forward to working with Governor-elect Baker to develop and implement a multi-year investment to provide all children with early learning opportunities and a strong foundation for future success. Governor-elect Baker is a supporter of targeted pre-k, as he stated during the campaign. We must expand access to pre-kindergarten programs, while continuing to invest in program quality and the early education and care workforce. We thank all gubernatorial candidates for running and raising these important issues. We look forward to working with Governor-elect Baker to help make this vision a reality for the commonwealth, and becoming the first state to close the achievement gap once and for all.

Our children are counting on us.”

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blues mapHow is Massachusetts doing on third-grade reading proficiency? And how, specifically, are third graders in your community doing?

Strategies for Children’s (SFC) newly updated infographics webpage make it easy to see how reading skills and achievement play out across the state. These images and graphs can be shared online or printed out and distributed at meetings. The data originates from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and can be explored in detail on the department’s website.

As we blogged last month, scores on the MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) have been stagnant.

In a statement, Chris Martes, SFC’s president and CEO, wrote, “The 2014 MCAS scores show that the state’s third grade reading proficiency rates have not changed since last year. This year, as in 2013, 43 percent of third grade students did not score proficient in reading. That’s roughly 29,000 children who did not meet this crucial educational benchmark.”

“The consequences of reading failure at this age are significant. Struggling readers are four times less likely to graduate high school on time than proficient readers, jeopardizing their prospects for participating in our global knowledge-based economy.” (more…)

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