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“We cycled through one child care arrangement after another. And every transition sent me into a near-panic. Every time it represented a failure. One night, after I’d put the kids to bed, my 78-year-old Aunt Bee called long-distance from Oklahoma to just see how I was doing. And I said sure, I’m find, I’m doing okay, I’m fine.

“And in the middle of a sentence, I just started to cry. And once I started, I could not stop. I was failing. I was failing my kids. I was failing my family. I was failing my teaching. I was doing laundry at 11 o’clock at night and class preps after midnight. And I felt like I was always behind. And then I said something that shocked me when I said it. I told Aunt Bee I was going to quit my job. My beloved teaching job. It’s like it just fell out of my mouth.

“Aunt Bee’s waiting on the other end long-distance. She waits for me to quit crying, waits for me to blow my nose and get a drink of water. And then she very matter-of-factly said, ‘I can’t get there tomorrow, but I can come on Thursday.’ And she arrived with seven suitcases and a Pekinese named Buddy and stayed for 16 years.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) speaking at the National Women’s Law Center 45th Annual Gala, October 18, 2017

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?” journalist Jeneen Interlandi asks in the title of a recent New York Times Magazine article.

The article tells the story of Kejo Kelly, an early educator in Springfield, Mass., who is devoted to her work despite earning a low salary, weathering personal tragedies, and covering for absent colleagues.

“The community Kelly taught in was low-income by all the standard metrics,” the article says. “Many of her students came from single-parent households — some from teenage mothers, at least one from foster care — and nearly all of them qualified for state-funded child care vouchers.”

Teachers at Kelly’s preschool program earn some $10 per hour, and staff turnover is high. The preschool can afford to “cover basics like food and art supplies but not enough to pay for on-site behavioral specialists or occupational therapists.” That’s why:

“Kelly kept her own fractured vigil — taking note of which students couldn’t control their emotions, or sit still for the life of them, or engage with others in a meaningful way — and giving those students whatever extra attention could be spared. She sometimes imagined the classroom as a bubble, inside which her students were temporarily spared from the hazards of everyday life. Her job, as she saw it, was to hold that bubble open for the ones who couldn’t always hold it open themselves.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Do you have exciting ideas about early education that need funding?

If so, consider sending them to the inaugural Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge.

Sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Zaentz challenge is “calling for individuals or teams to submit new ideas, fresh thinking, and strategic approaches that drive lasting change in early education.”

Projects that are accepted will receive up to $15,000 in implementation funding.

Why now? Because “there is tremendous interest and excitement along with expansion in access in many cities and towns across the nation.”

“We are seeking ideas and approaches that promote positive outcomes at multiple levels of the early education system, including the home, classroom, program and networks, and/or policy.” Continue Reading »

“Head Start programs are highly concentrated in low-income and rural areas of Georgia, providing vital access to early education and supporting at least $71 million in total economic output there, according to a new study by Georgia State University’s Center for State and Local Finance.

“The analysis found that in many rural, low-income Georgia counties more than half of centers serving 3- and 4-year-olds receive Head Start funds, and that some of the highest amounts of per-child funding are in these same rural areas of the state.

“Nicholas Warner, who specializes in education finance for the Center for State and Local Finance, authored the report, analyzing the impact of the funds across the 16 regional education service areas, or RESAs, as defined by the Georgia Department of Education.

“Four regions with low median incomes — Oconee, Chattahoochee-Flint, Southwest Georgia and Heart of Georgia — received more than $540 per child under the age of 5 in 2015. Together, these four areas received $47 million in direct Head Start funding, which supported $71 million in economic output.

“‘For the most impoverished areas of the state, these funds are an important factor in economic growth, supporting jobs and wages and fueling spending in the Head Start centers and many other local businesses as well,’ Warner said.”

“Study: Head Start Provides Rural Georgia $71 Million In Economic Output,” Georgia State University, January 11, 2018

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A guest blog by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children.

We’re keeping an eye on early education trends, and we think there are six important things to watch for in 2018.

• FY19 state budget advocacy

Will the Governor and the Legislature continue their support for the early childhood education workforce? We hope so. Massachusetts has made important progress.

• Dear Massachusetts Legislature: Please expand preschool.

Last year, the Senate Ways and Means committee included $15 million for expansion, but this allocation did not make it into the final budget.

We are continuing to advocate for a bill that would invest in expansion in a small but powerful way. “An Act ensuring high quality early education,” H.2874 filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and S.240 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) would award preschool expansion grants to high-needs communities that are ready to go with comprehensive implementation plans. Continue Reading »

JD Chesloff

We caught up with JD Chesloff, who just completed a 10-year term on the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), and asked him about what he’s seen over the last decade.

As readers of this blog know, JD’s career includes working at Strategies for Children and in the State House. He was also chair of EEC’s Board, and he is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

What has he seen as an EEC board member?

“The organization has matured over the last 10 years. It started out as a fledgling idea of having all of the early childhood activity in one place.”

“It’s grown up over that time and now it’s a clearly equal member at the education table with K-12 and higher education.”

JD praises the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and its focus on ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality programs. The department has also wrestled with serving all children, making universal access part of its vision in a 5-Year Strategic Plan.

What was the most personally satisfying part of JD’s time on the Board? Continue Reading »

“… we will keep working with the Legislature on our plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten with tourism taxes that are already being collected in Boston.

“Education has evolved. It’s time for our partnership to evolve as well. Let’s all pull together, to move our students, our city, and our state forward.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

*

“… we are nearing our goal of achieving universal, high-quality pre-k access through a collaborative system of providers.”

“In 2018, our focus on the whole child, our commitment to equity, and our investments in critical STEM, arts, language, and vocational programs will not waver. We will continue to drive significant resources into early childhood education.”

Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone

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