A message from Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children (SFC).
“As September starts, children and families across Massachusetts are heading back to school. Even programs that run for a full calendar year are enrolling new children and families and supporting these children as they make this transition. Some children are starting kindergarten and entering an elementary school for the first time. Some children are also entering a classroom for the first time because they’ve had no prior preschool experience. Indeed, national, state, and local data confirm that there is great variation in young children’s experiences during their first five years, and this is, unfortunately, where achievement gaps take root.
“There has been great interest in expanding high-quality early education opportunities for children in the commonwealth. Legislators filed several bills to do this work, however comprehensive pre-K expansion did not become state law this past legislative session. The state’s revenue picture remains challenging, and without additional revenue expanding access to high-quality early education and care will be difficult.
“We are grateful that, with limited resources, the Legislature made a commitment to quality and prioritized compensation of the early education workforce. This is crucial because we cannot expand pre-K without also ensuring that there will be a knowledgeable, fairly compensated teacher in every classroom.
“This fall, SFC will be sharing the many valuable lessons we have learned from the 13 preschool planning communities. We know that these communities have thought deeply about what high-quality preschool should look like in their cities and towns. We watched as leaders in these communities worked together to imagine what it would take to ensure that children had access to high-quality programs. We know that these communities have significant local needs and assets, and that they are ready to spend preschool funding wisely. We are eager to help connect the dots for state legislators and for the Baker administration, and we want to keep the momentum going to support children, families, and communities.
“Visit our website to learn more about our work in communities. Subscribe to our blog Eye on Early Education. Find us on Facebook and Twitter.
“Stay tuned for updates throughout the fall, and thank you for your support.”