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Moms, dads, toddlers, and babies from all 50 states came to the Washington, D.C., this week for Strolling Thunder.

During this annual event, families meet with members of Congress to talk about making child care more affordable, expanding paid family leave, and increasing funding for health care and early education.

“As parents, we must advocate, communicate and collaborate with all agencies serving and caring for our babies,” said Anna Akins, a Strolling Thunder parent from Louisiana, says in a press release from Zero to Three, the national nonprofit that organizes the event, which is part of the Think Babies campaign. “Our babies’ lives are depending on our voices. Let us continue to speak up and out about the importance of all things that help our babies thrive.” (more…)

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Screenshot: NIEER’s “The State of Preschool 2018”

 

“The State of Preschool 2018,” an annual look at pre-K programs in all 50 states, has just been released by NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research).

The 2018 yearbook, which analyzes data from the 2017-2018 school year, is a mix of good news and unmet challenges.

Across the country “more children are attending state-funded pre-K,” NIEER says in a press release, “but state funding is failing to keep pace, resulting in low compensation for pre-K teachers that too often undermines classroom quality…”

“Close to 1.6 million 3- and 4-year-olds attended state-funded pre-K programs in the 2017-18 year, with 85% of those children being 4-year-olds,” Education Dive reports. “This year’s report also includes two states — Montana and North Dakota — that operated pre-K programs for the first time last year. Overall, however, there has been little growth in enrollment — half of a percentage point for 3-year-olds and less than a percentage point for 4-year-olds.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the House Committee on Ways and Means released a $42.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020. In his letter to members, Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) highlighted investments in early education.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Massachusetts has prioritized the field of early education and care, investing in both access and quality,” Michlewitz wrote. “This budget continues these historic investments, including another $20 million rate reserve for early educators, which will help to raise salaries allowing education providers to recruit and retain high quality staff. This funding ensures Massachusetts’s youngest residents will receive the best possible care from experienced teachers during their most formative years.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early education programs across Massachusetts have used federal Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG) to add more seats and serve more than 800 additional children annually. But now these programs – located in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield — face a tough question: What happens next year after their PEG grants run out?

Boston is taking proactive steps. Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a plan to invest $15 million over five years to ensure high-quality pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the city.

In other communities, PEG grants have had a great deal of local success. The grants have supported some of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state.

These benefits were highlighted yesterday, at a meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) where researchers from Abt Associates summarized the most recent PEG program evaluations. A video of the Board meeting is posted here. It starts at 34:32. (more…)

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It’s time to start getting ready for Census 2020.

The official Census 2020 day is April 1, 2020, a year away. But schools, elected officials, and community organizations are working hard today to make sure everyone is counted a year from now. An accurate Census count will mean that cities and states get the legal representation and federal funding that matches their population counts.

Early educators should join this effort. Please encourage your contacts and communities to participate in the Census.

As we’ve blogged, Census results affect Head Start and other educational opportunities. There is, however, a risk that the Census may fail to count an estimated one million children, which is what happened during the 2010 Census.

“The Census Bureau acknowledges the long-standing undercount of young children in decennial censuses and in Census Bureau surveys,” the Census explains on its website. (more…)

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Governor Gina Raimondo at the Early Childhood Center in Johnston, R.I. Source: Gina Raimondo’s Flickr page.

 

Now that election season is over and governors have been sworn into office, they’re making good on their promises to expand “preschool and other early-childhood programs,” according to a recent article in Education Week.

Across the country, governors are building on the early education legacy left by the Obama administration, including the federally funded Preschool Expansion Grants. This state-level leadership is crucial, particularly now when the Trump administration is focusing less on early learning.

“I think right now it’s unrealistic to expect a big push for pre-K from the federal government,” Aaron Loewenberg, an education policy analyst with the think tank New America, told Education Week.

Fortunately, that’s not having an impact on governors. (more…)

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“On February 5, 2019, President Trump addressed the nation and declared the State of the Union strong. But something was conspicuously absent. Education, specifically early education, is a fundamental necessity in any strong union, or nation, and yet, was a missing piece of the President’s address.”

“Throughout the entirety of his speech, there were key themes including the value of research and technological advances. Over the last century, technology has led to innovative growth and advancements that drive a stronger economy. However, the fundamental and necessary means to achieve these advancements were noticeably absent — a strong, national education system.”

“Mr. President, you forgot one thing. The children.” By Mark Reilly, Vice President of Policy & Government Relations of Jumpstart, a national early education nonprofit. Posted on Medium, February 7, 2019

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