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Archive for the ‘Dept. of Early Education and Care’ Category

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“It’s like getting the band back together,” Pat Haddad (D-Somerset), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, said of herself and some her colleagues who gathered at the State House on Tuesday for “Looking Back to Look Forward,” a Strategies for Children celebration of the tenth anniversary of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care, which became law in 2008.

Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad

Sponsored by Haddad and Senator Robert Antonioni (D-Leominster) and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick, the new legislation was a bright step forward. It officially established Massachusetts’ Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, and outlined the responsibilities of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and for its board and commissioner.

“We had to block out some of the people who were naysayers,” Haddad said at the Looking Back event. But now, she explained, more and more legislators understand that building a universal pre-K program is “the right thing to do.”

The Legislature has never been able to fully fund UPK, but it has made progress, investing in scholarships for early educators and leveraging the power of federal preschool grant funds. (more…)

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Efrain Ponce

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

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My name is Efrain Ponce and I work at the Lowell Collaborative Preschool Academy. I have been in the field of early education for 10 years.

The job that I do is important because we are teaching the foundations of education. Not only are we teaching academics, but we also teach children how to be respectful, good citizens. We help parents by coaching them on what advocating for their child means and how to do it. Personally, I want to make sure that when children and their families leave my classroom, they are prepared for the public school system and know what resources are available to them.

One of my proudest moments was working with a child who was in my care a few years back. He was 4 years old when he came into the program, and I worked with him and his mom for the next year. By the end of the program when it was time for him to graduate, mom thanked me for being a strong male role model for him because he didn’t have one. The child even came back for two more years for after-school care and only wanted to come into my room. This experience made me realize how much of an impact an educator can have on children and their families. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

“The recently passed state budget is one of the best ever for high-quality early education. As advocates, we will be pushing state administrators to get this funding out to families, educators, programs and communities.” – Amy O’Leary, Director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign

As our blog readers know, this year’s FY19 state budget is the first in 10 years to surpass the pre-recession high point (FY09) of state funding for early education and care.

This fall, Strategies for Children (SFC) will be paying close attention to two key items in the budget.

#1 Preschool implementation grants

Since FY16, Massachusetts lawmakers have awarded preschool planning grants to 18 communities that have all completed preschool plans.

Now state leaders have taken a first step toward implementation by awarding grants to turn preschool plans into action. The new FY19 budget includes $5 million for implementation grants — funds that must be spent by the end of the fiscal year (June 30, 2019).

Communities are paying attention – they are busy revisiting their plans and getting ready to apply for this funding. They are sending their thoughts to the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and asking the department to issue the grant RFR (Request for Response) as soon as possible. (more…)

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A child scribbles a spiral on a piece of paper. What should a teacher say in response?

One answer: “Lovely.”

Why? To encourage the child to keep drawing, because it’s by doing more drawing that a child gets to explore art and the horizons of his or her talent.

That’s one of the many stories, insights, and ideas that educators will find at the multimedia exhibit “Wonder of Learning,” which is being hosted by the recently merged Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

Wonder of Learning shares the Reggio Emilia approach, a philosophy of early learning — named after the Italian town Reggio Emilia — that challenges educators to understand how their “image of a child” affects how they teach and interact with that child.

“It’s necessary that we believe that the child is very intelligent, that the child is strong and beautiful and has very ambitious desires and requests,” Reggio Emilia’s founder, Loris Malaguzzi, said at a 1993 seminar. “This is the image of the child that we need to hold.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) put its annual report to the Legislature on line in February. It’s a helpful resource for advocates and other sector stakeholders that looks back at how Massachusetts invested in young children in 2017. It highlights the state’s past progress in key areas getting attention in 2018, such as workforce supports and early childhood mental health. The state has done lots of good work that it can be proud of — and it has challenges that require attention and creative solutions.

“The Department of Early Education and Care serves as the entry point of Massachusetts’ birth to 21 education pipeline,” the report says. Guided by its Strategic Plan, EEC is working to make progress in four areas: (more…)

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

Ola Friday

Ola Friday grew up with educators. Her mother was a teacher and an assistant principal, and her father was a teacher. Friday knew she wanted to be in education, but when the time came to choose between Teach for America or a policy fellowship, she was excited about policy.

“What we know from early childhood is that you get your greatest return on investment when you invest in the education of our youngest children,” Friday says. “From a policy and analytical perspective, it just makes sense to be invested in this work.”

Friday invested herself into the work. She earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley, where she also took classes in the education school. She studied with David Kirp, an emeritus professor of public policy who also writes about early education.

Friday went on to work in New York City, helping to develop and implement QUALITYstarsNY, the city’s first quality rating and improvement system. She moved on to Pennsylvania where she helped overhaul the early childhood education career ladder. And along the way, she earned a Doctor of Education Leadership degree from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. (more…)

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Yesterday, hundreds of early educators from across the state — many wearing green and snapping cell phone pictures – gathered for a rally at the State House steps for Advocacy Day. An upbeat band, featuring tuba and trombone players, wove through the crowd, filling Beacon Street with music.

 

Leo Delaney

 

“It really is about the workforce,” Leo Delaney said. He’s the president of the board of MADCA (the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care), and he was the first speaker. “Without quality staff, you don’t have quality.” (more…)

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