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“California lawmakers who have long promised to expand free preschool for children from poor and middle-class families were sworn into office Monday, with a new plan and a new ally.

“Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who campaigned on expanding early education, said Monday that he wants the state to take steps toward free preschool for all children whose families don’t make enough to afford private alternatives. A lawmaker promptly submitted a proposal to do just that.

“Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, introduced a bill to make an additional 100,000 children ages 3 and 4 eligible for free preschool. Expanding the program that now pays for preschool for 175,000 children would cost the state about $1.3 billion over three years, McCarty said.”

“Some states, including Oklahoma and Florida, already offer universal preschool, and McCarty said California should follow their lead.”

“Free preschool gains momentum with California lawmakers,” by Melody Gutierrez, The San Francisco Chronicle, December 3, 2018

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

Every day in Massachusetts, 75,000 early childhood educators go to work caring for more than 400,000 young children. Yet, these educators face increasing demands inside and outside of the classroom, with low pay and high economic insecurity contributing to a workforce shortage.

Next year, to study these challenges, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Boston, will conduct a sweeping survey of the early education workforce.

This month, to prepare for the survey, researchers from UMass Boston’s Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (IEELI) have released a preliminary, Phase One report, “The Massachusetts Early Care and Education Workforce Study: Final Report Relevant to Survey Design.” Continue Reading »

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh meets with a young learner. Source: City of Boston Mayor’s Office’s Flickr page.

 

Boston has a long history of preschool progress. Starting under the administration of former Mayor Thomas Menino and continuing with Mayor Marty Walsh’s team, city officials have invested in quality, access, and innovation. Now, this work is featured in a new report — “A Focus on Teaching and Learning in Pre-K through 2nd Grade: Lessons from Boston” — from the think tank New America.

New America praises Boston for having a clear and lasting vision for expanding preschool, rather than “a series of priorities that shift every few years based on changes in district leadership.”

Thanks to a dynamic, public-private partnership, funding for this work came from the city and from funders like the Barr Foundation. Continue Reading »

“Too many poor children in rural areas, children in foster care, and children ages birth to 3 don’t have access to high-quality preschools, state leaders and early learning advocates fear. Families often don’t understand their choices. Health care and social services agencies often don’t know how to connect families with preschools. Preschool workers often don’t have enough training.

“ ‘Sometimes we’re not as knowledgeable as we’d like to be about where those gaps exist for those families,’ said Nicole Norvell, director of Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning.

“To identify and address the gaps, Indiana is applying for a nearly $10 million federal Preschool Development Grant. The plan, submitted to the federal government earlier this month, would cost about $14 million, with help from about $4 million in matching state dollars.

“Up to 40 states could receive awards. It’s uncertain when states will hear back about their applications, but it could be as early as the end of December.”

“Indiana seeks $10 million federal grant to find gaps in early childhood education,” by Stephanie Wang, Chalkbeat, November 29, 2018

Screenshot of NPR website

 

High-quality early education packs a powerful financial punch.

“You can think of having a better kindergarten teacher as being worth something like $300,000 for a classroom of students,” Harvard economist Raj Chetty said earlier this month in an episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain podcast.

In other words, a classroom of kids with a high-quality kindergarten teacher will earn $300,000 more than a classroom without a highly skilled teacher. What makes a good kindergarten teacher? Chetty says this isn’t fully known, but strong teachers have key skills such as the ability to manage a classroom, to help children focus, and to inspire them. Continue Reading »

Presidential Seminar panelists. Front row: Zaina Cahill and Rachel Giannini. Back row: Llanet Montoya, Mary Graham, and Amy O’Leary.

 

Earlier this month at the NAEYC Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., the Presidential Seminar featured a panel discussion about advocacy with both seasoned advocates and newer advocates who are just finding their advocacy voices.

“To achieve universally accessible, high-early early education and care in our country, we need to build a broad-based movement that is organized, guided and supported by a diverse leadership that has as its core the voices of those who directly work with children and families,” the panel’s description explains, adding that to make a difference for children, families, and the field, early educators should understand that, “We are the ones we have been waiting for – we need to be the change we want to see in the world!”

The panel was planned and moderated by Amy O’Leary, NAEYC’s president and the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All campaign.

The panel discussion was also featured in the Education Dive article, “Panelists stress need for educators to play dual role as pre-K policy advocates.” Continue Reading »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

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