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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh met a child care need last month at the third annual African-American Veterans Appreciation Brunch. Mayor’s Office Photo by Isabel Leon, posted on Mayor Walsh’s Flickr page.

 

Boston continues to lead the way on early childhood policy. Knowing that local, accurate, early childhood data is essential for program planning but often nonexistent, city officials are taking proactive steps to collect this data through the annual city census. Boston is asking parents to fill out a survey to explain their child care arrangements and challenges, as well as their family needs relating to language and disabilities.

The answers “will help inform a policy that works for all.”

The survey website provides more context, adding:

“For the first time ever, the City of Boston has added an optional survey to its annual citywide census. We’re hoping to better understand how people and households across Boston relate to language and disability. We also want to learn about how families access and experience care for their children ages five and under.”

Boston will be the first community in Massachusetts to collect child care information in its municipal census. (more…)

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How can K-12 education be improved?

Answers are being hotly debated. But according to a new report, too many people are overlooking a promising answer: K-12 should embrace early education.

“For years, the K–12 world has fundamentally underappreciated how the early years shape long-term educational outcomes,” the report — “Why The K-12 World hasn’t Embraced Early Learning” — explains.

Elliot Regenstein, a partner at the national education law firm Foresight Law and Policy, and the report’s author says:

“The goal of the paper is to provoke some much-needed conversation about strengthening the connection between K-12 and early learning. Massachusetts has always been a leader in education policy, and I hope it will be helpful to the state as it considers ways to continue improving its outcomes.”

In the report, Regenstein notes that there is good will to build on. (more…)

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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. (more…)

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Shelby Holt

 

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Shelby Holt and I work as a K2 Teacher & Grade Level Leader at Match Community Day Public Charter School in Hyde Park, Mass. I studied early childhood education at university; however, I’ve been in the field since I was 16!

After my father’s encouragement to discover a fitting career path during high school (maybe so I’d remain a bit more focused on my studies!!), I found my first internship at a Head Start program in Framingham, Mass. Since then I’ve remained passionate about early childhood education: I’ve been teaching and leading in Massachusetts, New York, and London since 2008. (And being a big sister — I’d like to think that I’ve been an early childhood educator since 1990.)

I feel an adrenaline rush each morning when my alarm goes off. As I drive to school I make a myriad of decisions for how the classroom will feel and look that day. Every job is important, but being an early childhood educator means that I get to help all the children in my class prepare to be successful in the future. I’m sure anyone reading this can recall a particular moment from their time in kindergarten. So much of it is magically formative. I remind myself that each day I could cause a breakthrough memory in a little heart. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Read all about preschool in several articles in the recent issue of Boston Magazine.

The theme for this issue is education, with a special look at early education.

One article – “Whatever Happened to Universal Pre-K in Boston?” – looks at what “universal” has meant under Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.

As the article explains, universal preschool does not, in Boston, mean more preschool spots; it means more quality.

“In fact,” the article says, “when you tally up Boston’s public school classrooms, charters, parochials, and community-based programs, plus federal Head Start, there has been more than enough free or subsidized pre-K to go around for Boston’s 6,000 four-year-olds since Walsh first set foot in City Hall. It’s just that not all of it was created equal. ‘Most of the country wants to get universal access,’ says Rahn Dorsey, the city’s chief of education, ‘but access without quality doesn’t close the achievement gap.’ ” (more…)

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TeeAra Dias at a “Wonder of Learning” event held at Boston University / Wheelock College.

“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

When TeeAra Dias was 18 and working for Bright Horizons, a corporate child care provider, she asked herself a career question:

“Do I want to live in a birthday bear suit?”

Dias had been dressing up as a bear to provide entertainment at the children’s parties that were held at Bright Horizons.

She knew she had a passion for serving children. A Boston native, she had worked as one of the city’s summer youth employment “Red Shirts” at the Little People’s Playhouse in Roslindale. But was life in the bear suit satisfying enough?

To answer this question, Dias decided to get more education. She continued to work at Bright Horizons and attended Mt. Ida College where she met Eunice Perry, who ran Mt. Ida’s Longfellow Preschool Program.

Perry was “a mentor and really helped me better understand that early education was more than just playing with children, that I was actually a child’s first (more…)

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What do families, teachers, administrators, and Boston Mayors Tom Menino and Marty Walsh all have in common?

High-quality early education.

This story — of how a big city educates some of its smallest residents — is told in a newly published book, “Children at the Center: Transforming Early Childhood Education in the Boston Public Schools.”

“More than a decade ago,” the book explains, “Boston made a daring bet – that it could build and sustain a high-quality, whole-child focused, intellectually engaging early education program that would significantly lower the city’s persistent achievement gaps by locating that program within its public school system.”

The good news?

“That bet is clearly paying off.”

“Children at the Center” has three expert authors: Betty Bardige, a psychologist and an early childhood author and advocate; Megina Baker, a researcher at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Boston University early childhood education faculty member; and Ben Mardell, a principal investigator at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero.  (more…)

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