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Screenshot of New America’s report.

 

What does high-quality pre-K look like?

It depends on where you look, according to a new report from the think tank New America.

“Since publicly funded pre-K programs are guided by varying intents, regulations, and funding approaches, there is little continuity in early learning. There are uneven standards for program quality, variable hours of coverage, incongruent eligibility requirements, and competing demands for accountability.”

Despite this “uneven” practice, the research does provide clear answers of what quality looks like.

To get a sharp picture of quality, New America’s report — “Indispensable Policies & Practices for High-Quality Pre-K: Research & Pre-K Standards Review” — “synthesizes recent meta-analyses and other studies” and “analyzes existing pre-K quality standards.”

Six themes emerged from this process: (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

A new report –“Quality for Whom?”– from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) points to two converging trends:

1) the number of immigrant children in the United States is growing in many states as is the number of children whose parents do not speak English, and

2) States have been working hard to increase the quality of early programs using Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS)

That’s why, the report notes, QRIS efforts should embrace the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse families (CLDs) and of diverse early childhood staff.

“It is critical for stakeholders to address equity issues in early childhood for several reasons,” one of the report’s authors, Julie Sugarman, told us. “First, because children from an immigrant background make up a quarter of all children ages 0 to 5 and immigrants make up 18 percent of the early childhood workforce — a significant share of the field.  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) wants your feedback.

EEC is revising the Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System (MA QRIS). And the department wants to know what you think of its draft document.

Massachusetts’ QRIS system looks at quality in five areas:

  1. Curriculum and Learning
  2. Safe, Healthy Indoor and Outdoor Environments
  3. Workforce Development and Professional Qualifications
  4. Family and Community Engagement
  5. Leadership, Administration and Management

QRIS work is also going on nationally, as Debi Mathias, director of the QRIS National Learning Network with the BUILD Initiative, noted in a panel discussion last year. And these efforts are having a positive impact on children. (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Early educators’ salaries are unconscionably low, but Massachusetts leaders are starting to address this.

The Washington Post sounded an alarm about early educators’ salaries last year, reporting:

“The people who are paid to watch America’s children tend to live in poverty. Nearly half receive some kind of government assistance: food stamps, welfare money, Medicaid. Their median hourly wage is $9.77 — about $3 below the average janitor’s.”

The post cited a report written by Marcy Whitebook, noting:

“In a new report, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley warn that child care is too vital to the country’s future to offer such meager wages. Those tasked with supporting kids, they explain, are shaping much of tomorrow’s workforce.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo had shared a similar warning a few months earlier, the Boston Globe reported. DeLeo declared that the early education workforce was “in crisis.” (more…)

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“If you want to increase the quality of early education and care, you need a consistent, highly skilled, well-paid workforce to deliver on that promise.”

Marie St. Fleur, former Massachusetts State Representative, in the video “Key to Quality Early Education and Care is Quality Workforce,” posted by Wheelock College, August 1, 2017

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

“How do we go about the task of simultaneously expanding and improving early education – creating more classrooms for more children – while also shaping and improving what is happening in those classrooms?”

That’s the question Nonie Lesaux and Stephanie Jones ask in the article they’ve published in U.S. News and World Report: “Better Education Starts With Adults: Our treatment of educators and leaders is key to improving early childhood education.”

Lesaux and Jones are both professors at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and as our blog readers know, Lesaux wrote the Strategies for Children report, “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success.”

Their approach to expanding and improving early education is, as the article’s title states, to start with adults. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Friday, July 7, 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the state’s fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget calls for $40.2 billion in spending, according to MassLive.com. That’s an increase of $1 billion over last year.

 

Funding highlights for early education and care include:

 

• $15 million for a workforce rate reserve

 

• $200,000 for preschool planning grants, and

 

• $1 million for Reach Out and Read

 

Total FY’18 funding for early education will be higher than FY’17 levels, but still several million dollars lower than the budgets that the House and Senate approved just a few months ago. 

 

The next step in the budget process: The FY’18 budget awaits Governor Charlie Baker’s signature. 

 

Please contact Governor Baker and urge him to sign the budget into law, preserving investments in high-quality early education. 

 

Show your support for the early education workforce: email the Governor now or call his office at: 617.725.4005.

 

For more information visit the Strategies for Children state budget webpage, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org.

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