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Archive for the ‘Early educators’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

This week, we’re focusing on the early education and care workforce.

Massachusetts readers, please join us at the upcoming rally on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. It’s State House Advocacy Day for early education and after- school programs. This event starts at 10:30 a.m. on the front steps of the State House.

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How bad is the workforce crisis in early education?

Imagine if the Patriots only had three players: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Malcolm Mitchell. They would work hard because that’s who they are. But instead of playing to win, they’d have to focus on making do.

This kind of limited roster is increasingly a challenge for preschool programs because the field’s low salaries are making it extremely tough to hire and keep staff.

One example from Western Massachusetts: (more…)

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

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My name is Kristen Allen, and I am a preschool teacher at the Goddard School in Bellingham. I have been in the field since 1985, when my work-study job at UMASS/Boston was in the campus child care center. At the time, I was studying geography, and I hoped to teach high school environmental science and spend my summers leading canoe trips. After that first exposure to toddlers, though, I was hooked!

I have worked in almost every aspect of the field — in classrooms; running my own licensed family child care program when my children were young; training women to operate their own licensed family child care businesses; managing a home-visiting program for young mothers; providing mentoring, coaching, and training to early childhood professionals at workshops and conferences nationwide; coordinating USDA child and adult care food programs; and working on early childhood policy issues. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

How can early learning programs best serve the children of immigrant parents who are worried about being deported?

The advocacy organization Early Edge California has some answers.

“Currently we are hearing that some families are not attending early learning programs out of concern of deportation, so we are working at the state level on information that can guide local policies and practices,” Early Edge says on its website.

These resources include:

• a U.S. Department of Education fact sheet about safe spaces such as schools and churches where immigration actions may not occur

• a guide for educators and school support staff released by the American Federation of Teachers and other organizations to help those “who teach, mentor and help open the doors of opportunity for undocumented youth and unaccompanied and refugee children currently living in the United States”

• another U.S. Department of Education publication explains how early learning programs and elementary schools can support immigrant families

The need for this awareness is substantial.  (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.
Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Kuh

Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Kuh, the Director of Early Education for Somerville Public Schools

 

Somerville serves only about 45 percent of the 4-year-olds who could potentially enroll in preschool.

Our Preschool Expansion Strategic Planning Grant inspired us to develop a three-year plan that builds upon existing partnerships and adds 108 additional seats in a mixed-delivery system. To do this in the upcoming 2017-18 school year, Somerville Public Schools (SPS) will expand its collaboration with Head Start to accommodate 36 more children in classrooms taught by both SPS and Head Start teachers.

In 2018-2020, we hope to add up to 72 slots across community-based childcare providers for income-eligible families. The cost per child includes pay equity for teachers, administrative support for directors, coaching and curriculum support, and comprehensive mental health and family services. We hope state funding will support this expansion. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Low salaries are driving early educators out of their jobs, eroding efforts to offer high-quality programs to young children.

This challenge was featured in a front page news story in Sunday’s Worcester Telegram and Gazette, which reports:

“Losing needed staff is never a good thing. But for early childhood education centers these days, it can be especially demoralizing, said Kim Davenport, who recalled the case of one aspiring teacher who recently passed up a full-time classroom job for a higher-paying gig – at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“‘We’re losing the talent we really need in these programs,’ said Ms. Davenport, managing director of a multiagency initiative underway in Worcester aimed at expanding the city’s preschool options.”

And while early educators are getting advanced degrees that help them become even better teachers, these degrees aren’t leading to salary increases. (more…)

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

What should President-elect Trump know about early education?

Overhauling the country’s early childhood system will take hard work and a significant investment of funds – but it will be worth it.

That’s the message in a memo released last month by the think tank Brookings. The memo – “Building a cohesive, high-quality early childhood system” — is part of a series called “Memos to the President on the Future of Education Policy.” It was written by Daphna Bassok, Katherine Magnuson, and Christina Weiland.

The next president, the memo says, “must lead the way by (1) ensuring low-income and middle class families are not forced to make decisions between high-quality and affordable care, (2) supporting efforts to transform the early childhood workforce, and (3) building cohesion within a highly fragmented system.”

Among the memo’s recommendations: (more…)

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