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Mayor Marty Walsh at a Pre-K-to-2nd Grade Art Exhibition held by the Higginson Inclusion School. (Mayor’s Office Photo by Isabel Leon)

 

“It was a 2013 campaign pledge from Marty Walsh that, if voters picked him, every 4-year-old in Boston would have the right to go to a high-quality preschool. Under a budget proposal submitted last week, Walsh is making good on that promise, with a $15 million infusion to fund the remaining 750 seats needed to reach full coverage.

“That means by 2025 Boston will be able to offer preschool to about 4,000 4-year-olds.”

“So what about the rest of the state? Only about a quarter of preschool age children in Massachusetts have publicly financed early education and care, according to advocacy group Strategies for Children. The state has helped fund efforts like Boston’s and is planning to continue to do so. House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s budget proposal for the third year in a row calls for a $20 million increase to boost the pay of early educators.

“Boston has led the way on universal pre-K, and now it’s time for other cities in the Commonwealth to follow suit. It will take a village: a variety of funding mechanisms and the willingness to experiment.”

“Editorial: Boston’s path to universal preschool offers lessons for other cities,” The Boston Globe, April 15, 2019

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Screenshot: NIEER’s “The State of Preschool 2018”

 

“The State of Preschool 2018,” an annual look at pre-K programs in all 50 states, has just been released by NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

The 2018 yearbook, which analyzes data from the 2017-2018 school year, is a mix of good news and unmet challenges.

Across the country “more children are attending state-funded pre-K,” NIEER says in a press release, “but state funding is failing to keep pace, resulting in low compensation for pre-K teachers that too often undermines classroom quality…”

“Close to 1.6 million 3- and 4-year-olds attended state-funded pre-K programs in the 2017-18 year, with 85% of those children being 4-year-olds,” Education Dive reports. “This year’s report also includes two states — Montana and North Dakota — that operated pre-K programs for the first time last year. Overall, however, there has been little growth in enrollment — half of a percentage point for 3-year-olds and less than a percentage point for 4-year-olds.” (more…)

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh confers with a future 4-year-old. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

 

Earlier this month, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh promised to invest $15 million in expanding the city’s preschool programs.

This week, a Boston Globe editorial – “Boston’s path to universal preschool offers lessons for other cities” — weighs in, pointing to Boston’s pre-K strengths.

Among the strategies that other cities could borrow from Boston:

• expanding preschool through a mixed delivery system, “a combination of public school classrooms and community-based centers with funding from the city, state, federal government, and even foundations,” as well as

• increasing starting teacher salaries from $35,000 to $53,000 to lower teachers’ attrition rates

Statewide, the need for more preschool spots is considerable, the Globe says, citing some of our data:

“Only about a quarter of preschool age children in Massachusetts have publicly financed early education and care, according to advocacy group Strategies for Children.”

Boston’s investment is particularly important now because federal Preschool Expansion Grants are ending, and at the state level, the House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget does not include funding for Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative — although a budget amendment would include $15 million for the partnership.

Please read the editorial to learn more — and be sure to add your comments!

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early education programs across Massachusetts have used federal Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG) to add more seats and serve more than 800 additional children annually. But now these programs – located in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield — face a tough question: What happens next year after their PEG grants run out?

Boston is taking proactive steps. Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a plan to invest $15 million over five years to ensure high-quality pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the city.

In other communities, PEG grants have had a great deal of local success. The grants have supported some of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state.

These benefits were highlighted yesterday, at a meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) where researchers from Abt Associates summarized the most recent PEG program evaluations. A video of the Board meeting is posted here. It starts at 34:32. (more…)

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It’s time to start getting ready for Census 2020.

The official Census 2020 day is April 1, 2020, a year away. But schools, elected officials, and community organizations are working hard today to make sure everyone is counted a year from now. An accurate Census count will mean that cities and states get the legal representation and federal funding that matches their population counts.

Early educators should join this effort. Please encourage your contacts and communities to participate in the Census.

As we’ve blogged, Census results affect Head Start and other educational opportunities. There is, however, a risk that the Census may fail to count an estimated one million children, which is what happened during the 2010 Census.

“The Census Bureau acknowledges the long-standing undercount of young children in decennial censuses and in Census Bureau surveys,” the Census explains on its website. (more…)

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Mayor Martin Walsh greets kids on the playground after the Universal Pre-K announcement at ABCD Head Start Walnut Grove. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

 

Yesterday, at the ABCD Head Start Walnut Grove program in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, Mayor Marty Walsh announced that the City of Boston is investing $15 million to expand access to free, high-quality pre-K.

“ ‘This is a game-changer for the young people of our city,’ Walsh said Tuesday, surrounded by school administrators and representatives from community groups set to partner with the city to fully implement pre-K programming,” the Boston Globe reports.

The funding will support the “Quality Pre-K Fund,” which will guarantee equitable access “for all 4-year-olds living in Boston within five years,” a press release explains.

The Quality Pre-K Fund will “support the creation of 750 high-quality seats in the nationally recognized pre-K programs in Boston Public Schools (BPS) and in community-based organizations, such as ABCD Head Start, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, and many others,” the press release says, adding, “When Mayor Walsh took office, the gap of high-quality pre-K classroom seats stood at 1,500, and over the last six years this number has been cut in half.” (more…)

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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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