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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved Massachusetts’ plan for ESSA – the Every Student Succeeds Act. And as we’ve blogged, while ESSA covers K-12, it includes opportunities “to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum.”

In a press release, DeVos says:

“I continue to be heartened by the ways in which states have embraced the flexibility afforded to them under ESSA.”

“I want to thank Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson, Governor Charlie Baker and all the stakeholders that contributed to Massachusetts’ plan. This plan also serves as a testament to the leadership of the late Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who remains greatly missed.”

Submitted by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), the ESSA plan covers a number of goals for improving K-12 education that involve early education. (more…)

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Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) in yellow. Photo: Strolling Thunder, Zero to Three

What makes members of Congress look good?

Babies!

Last week, the national nonprofit Zero to Three proved this point when it held a first-time-ever event called Strolling Thunder, a gathering of babies and parents from many states who came to Washington, D.C., to meet their Congressional representatives — and to put babies in the spotlight. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The Trump administration has released its budget proposal, and there’s mixed news for education: some budget cuts and some budget increases. So far, there is no word on budget proposals for Head Start and other early childhood programs.

As the National Women’s Law Center explained in an email, Trump has released a “skinny budget” that lists some details about “spending priorities” including “very deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs while increasing defense spending by $54 billion.” The center analyzes the budget’s impact on families here.

But bear in mind that Trump’s budget is only a proposal. Congress will be hammering out its own budget for the nation.

For now, however, here’s what we know about Trump’s budget. (more…)

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Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG grants) have been generating a lot of action. As we blogged last week, researchers have found that communities are successfully using the federal funding to expand preschool offerings, and offer high-quality, effective programs that meet the needs of children and families.

We decided to chronicle some of these efforts in two recently released community stories.

One story focuses on Springfield where Dan Warwick, superintendent of the city’s public schools, was determined to create more opportunities for young children. The city bought a building at 15 Catharine Street and turned it into a busy hub of preschool activity.

“That’s one of the best programs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” Warwick says in the story. “Three private providers and the public schools in the same building, same coaches, same curriculum, really working together very well.” (more…)

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Matt Deninger speaks about the Every Student Succeeds Act. Photo: Amy O’Leary for Strategies for Children

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is in the news, and education officials are seeking public comments on how this law should be implemented.

On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, Strategies for Children convened a group of early childhood practitioners, advocates, and policy makers to discuss ESSA. Matthew Deninger from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was on hand to provide background on the law. He shared details about the evolving Massachusetts plan and spoke about opportunities to support the birth-through-grade-three continuum in the state plan and in local district plans.

Several themes emerged from this discussion:  (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

In 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education (EEC) was awarded a federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG grant), funds that officials are using to expand high-quality preschool in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield.

Now, a new report says the first year of PEG grant activity has produced strong benefits – with room for targeted improvements.

“While there remains room for growth and consistency as the program continues into its second year of implementation, both children and parents are clearly benefitting from the program,” said Principal Investigator Barbara Goodson.

“The five participating cities are making significant progress toward supporting our goal of helping all children achieve math and reading proficiency by third grade,” Governor Charlie Baker said earlier this month in a press release. (more…)

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Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

Foreground: Representative Claire Cronin (D-Plymouth) speaking to Commissioner Mitchell Chester, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Background: TeeAra Dias, Preschool Expansion Grant Project Manager, Boston Public Schools.

 

“We now know there are more kids in more programs, but clearly not enough, clearly not enough,” Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children, told the 100 participants at a meeting that was held last month in downtown Boston for the community teams from across Massachusetts that are focused on expanding preschool opportunities for children and families.

We’re including audio clips and photos from the event in this blog post.

 

Strategies for Children’s Amy O’Leary presents a brief history of state policy for early education and care.

 

Each team had received either federal Preschool Expansion Grant funds to add high-quality preschool seats (5 communities); state-funded preschool planning grants (13 communities); or both. Combined, these communities are Athol, Boston, Brockton, Cape Cod, Fall River, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, New Bedford, North Adams, Pittsfield, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester. (more…)

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