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“Salem has much to recommend it to new residents, including a revitalized downtown, myriad housing options, a university, nightlife and a major museum. But for some years now, the public schools have been its Achilles heel.”

“That’s why it was so heartening last week to hear about a new approach to education that is starting to take place here, an approach that Paul Reville, a former state education commissioner and current Harvard professor, said is at the forefront of a national effort to update the way schools help children in this century. Reville, Superintendent Margarita Ruiz and Mayor Kim Driscoll spoke to the Salem Rotary about it last week.”

“As part of this By All Means program, the city is approaching learning as a community endeavor, calling on community groups, youth groups, the hospital, the university, sports groups and others to step up and help kids get the resources they need to be successful in school.

“The big issue, Reville says, is no secret: Children don’t enter kindergarten on a level playing field. Some have been read to every night, nurtured in preschool, taken to museums, exposed to dancing lessons or nature camps. Others have had none of those advantages. And the resulting achievement gap grows as the years go on, and some children continue to get everything from sports camps to homework help, and others do not.”

“The schools have addressed some barriers to learning, by, for example, offering free breakfast in the classroom every day. Now they are starting a new program in which every child will be assessed by his or her teacher and get an individual plan. Then the teacher can consult with counselors in the schools, who will handle it from there, connecting children with resources that can help with issues ranging from housing needs to outside enrichment.

“Ruiz gave the example of a kid who might benefit from an after-school basketball program, but he lives in a single-parent household and has no way to get to practices. Using the school system’s new partner, City Connects, counselors can help make it happen, perhaps by using a youth group van or connecting a family with another parent on the team who could provide transportation.”

“Our view: A promising new approach for Salem schools,” Oct 1, 2017, Salem News

Photo: Screenshot of GEEARS report cover.

 

What does it mean to be school ready?

Different stakeholders have different answers – and that can lead to fractured efforts to help young children.

Georgia, however, has come up with a framework for school readiness that should help unite the actions of families, schools, and communities.

“The framework articulates not only the central components of school readiness but also the roles various stakeholders play in promoting it.”

This is an important step forward because many states have struggled to define school readiness.

To develop the framework, the nonprofit organization GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students worked with state leaders to form a committee that solicited feedback from experts and from stakeholders across the state.  Continue Reading »

Last week, early education leaders from around the country met at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education (HGSE) for “The Leading Edge of Early Childhood Education: Expansion and Improvement for Impact.” The goal: to discuss “the delivery of high-quality early learning at scale and its benefit to children and society.”

Now, a video of the full, seven-hour meeting is available on line, thanks to its host, HGSE’s Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative.

The meeting was kicked off by HGSE Professor Nonie Lesaux who explained that early education’s landscape has four pillars:

– the persistence of the economic opportunity gap

– the developmental force of the early childhood years

– the promise of high-quality early learning experiences, and

– the challenge of making good on the potential and promise for ALL children

Citing Sean Reardon, an education professor at Stanford University, Lesaux said the challenge today is building “equality of quality at scale.” In other words, every young child should have access to great preschool programs. Continue Reading »

Georgia’s First Lady Sandra Deal (second from left) and Governor Nathan Deal at the North Fulton Child Development Center. Photo source: Sandra Deal’s Twitter page.

 

“Some of Georgia’s leading politicians kicked off the 25th birthday of the pre-kindergarten program on Monday by reading to some of the state’s youngest students.

“Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife Sandra launched the weeklong celebration by reading to a group of students at the North Fulton Child Development Center in Roswell. The students roared when the program’s brightly colored mascot entered the room.

“‘This is one of the more successful programs of its type in the country. It’s an important part of teaching children to read, and reading skills help unlock the future for any child,’ said Deal.

“The lottery-funded pre-K program started in 1992 as a pilot program serving 750 children under then-Gov. Zell Miller’s administration. It has since educated about 1.6 million children.”

“Georgia celebrates 25th anniversary of pre-K program,” AJC.com, October 2, 2017

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved Massachusetts’ plan for ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act. And as we’ve blogged, while ESSA covers K-12, it includes opportunities “to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum.”

In a press release, DeVos says:

“I continue to be heartened by the ways in which states have embraced the flexibility afforded to them under ESSA.”

“I want to thank Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Governor Charlie Baker and all the stakeholders that contributed to Massachusetts’ plan. This plan also serves as a testament to the leadership of the late Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who remains greatly missed.”

Submitted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), the ESSA plan covers a number of goals for improving K-12 education that involve early education. Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Georgia continues to break ground on early childhood education.

Some of this work is being done at the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, a program of the Atlanta Speech School.

On its website, “Read Right from the Start on the Cox Campus,” Rollins provides free courses and online resources for early educators. Among these are two compelling videos about how to effectively use language with young children.

One video — “The Promise” — features children explaining how adults and early educators can use their words to help children learn.

“We need you to give our voices power,” one child says. Others advise:

“Talk to us.”

“Sing to us.” Continue Reading »

“Early childhood education benefits more than the kids who participate — it also helps their kids, even decades later.

“A new study of Head Start, the large federally funded pre-kindergarten initiative that started in the 1960s, found that the children of kids who participated were substantially more likely to graduate high school and attend college, and less likely to commit crime and become a teen parent.

“It’s the latest signal that a substantial investment in early childhood education, particularly when paired with well-funded K-12 schools, can have long-lasting benefits — and offers a striking extension of that research into a second generation.

“‘Our findings indicate that societal investments in early childhood education can disrupt the intergenerational transmission of the effects of poverty,’ write researchers Andrew Barr of Texas A&M and Chloe Gibbs of Notre Dame.”

“Who benefits from Head Start? Kids who attend — and their kids, too,” by Matt Barnum, Chalkbeat, September 19, 2017

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