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Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

Boston Public Schools preschool teacher Mary Bolt watches Jason DePina Jr., 5, draw a picture of Batman for his book about superheroes in the classroom’s writing section. Photo by Lillian Mongeau/Hechinger Report

A new article in the Atlantic (courtesy of the Hechinger Report) — “What Boston’s Preschools Get Right” — looks at how Boston is building high-quality programs — and how some cities are pushing ahead on pre-K even though state and federal governments are lagging behind.

At Dorchester’s Russell Elementary School, a day in a pre-K classroom “could be a primer on what high-quality preschool is supposed to look like,” the article says. “Children had free time to play with friends in a stimulating environment, received literacy instruction that pushed beyond comprehension to critical thinking and communication, and were introduced to complex mathematics concepts in age-appropriate ways. All three practices have been shown to go beyond increasing what children know to actually improving how well they learn in kindergarten and beyond.” (more…)

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“The individual and collective progress of the 20 Early Learning Challenge States is changing the early childhood landscape for the better… It is exciting to watch these states make meaningful improvements as they tackle common and state-specific challenges and share lessons learned.”

Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development at the Administration for Children and Families, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, in “Early childhood education gets push from $1 billion federal investment,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2016

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The Obama administration has just a released a new report that sums up its point with its title: “High-Quality Early Learning Settings Depend on a High-Quality Workforce: Low Compensation Undermines Quality.” It has been jointly released by the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report also features wage profiles for each state, including one for Massachusetts that’s posted here.

Wages are “sometimes at or near the Federal poverty line,” the report says, even when early educators “obtain credentials and higher levels of education.” It’s a deeply rooted problem that we blog about often, and one that other research reports have covered. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

How do you pay for preschool when there’s a shortage of state and federal funding? This is a question many local communities are wrestling with today, including several here in Massachusetts.

Across the country, local communities are reaching into their own pockets to “create programs tailored to suit the needs of their residents,” New America’s EdCentral blog explains.

This local action is crucial because “Nationwide, only four out of ten four-year-olds attend preschool each year, despite the widely accepted array of benefits an early start to education can provide a child.”

The blog reviews a new report from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) that looks at pre-K in 10 cities, including Boston as well as Denver, Los Angeles (LAUP), New York City, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and West Sacramento.

Upon reviewing these local pre-K models, the report’s authors suggest “ten questions that any city or community working to expand pre-K opportunities for its residents should consider.” (more…)

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Photo: Courtesy of the Eos Foundation

Photo: Courtesy of the Eos Foundation

School leaders in Massachusetts have won Healthy Start Awards from the Eos Foundation for contributing “to the educational success of the whole child by addressing their nutritional needs,” according to the foundation’s website. The third annual Healthy Start Awards ceremony was held last week at the State House.

Located in Harwich Port, Mass., the Eos Foundation “is a private philanthropic foundation committed to breaking the cycle of poverty by investing in children’s futures.”

The Healthy Start Awards “recognize individual school communities in Massachusetts that have reached 80% or higher school breakfast participation rates. The dedicated efforts of these schools’ administrators, teachers, custodians, food service staff, school secretaries and nurses help provide children in Massachusetts’ high-need schools access to the nutritious breakfast they need to learn each day.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Do children have a Constitutional right to attend preschool?

James Ryan, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, says that they could.

“As enrollment in publicly funded pre-K continues to rise in many states, it might be time to dust off a law review article I wrote about a decade ago,” Ryan explains in an Education Week blog. Ryan was previously a law professor at the University of Virginia.

In the Ed Week blog, he writes: “All state constitutions guarantee a right to a public education, and most emphasize that public education should be free.”

“Very few state constitutions specify, either by age or grade, what constitutes a ‘public education’ or, more precisely, when it begins. The key question, of course, is whether pre-K is or should be included within the definition of public education. If it is considered part and parcel of a public education, four-year olds (and perhaps three-year olds) would presumably have a right to attend — and their case would be stronger in states whose courts have recognized a right to an adequate or equal education.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Tired of the election’s noise and name-calling?

Then encourage candidates and already-elected officials to talk about early education.

As a U.S. News and World Report article explains, “Education is an issue that serves as a linchpin for many of the other issue concerns of voters, such as job security, economic opportunity, wage stagnation and economic mobility. Helping families and communities provide children with high-quality early education from birth to age five has emerged as a family issue which the vast majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents can agree upon and urge action.”

The article — “Early Education Makes for Good Politics: In an ugly campaign season, investments in early childhood education are good policy with bipartisan appeal” – was co-written by a bipartisan team. Jim Messina is the founder and CEO of the Messina Group, and he was the campaign manager for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. Kevin Madden is a partner at Hamilton Place Strategies, and he was a senior advisor and spokesperson for Governor Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. (more…)

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