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Archive for the ‘MA governor’ Category

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

In a new policy brief, The Center on American Progress (CAP) is calling on governors to take executive action on early education.

“Governors can become early childhood leaders by setting a vision for early learning and adopting it as a key agenda item,” the center says.

Governors’ toolkits include executive orders, state agency directives, budget proposals, and working “with their legislatures to prioritize state investments in young children.”

Consider the story of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt who had served for two terms. In the early 1990s, Hunt was out for a walk in the woods when he saw a small child near a poor shack trying to drink from an empty bottle. “This is the child we need to be helping,” Hunt recalls thinking in the book “The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics,” by University of California-Berkeley’s public policy professor David L. Kirp. The sight of this child made Hunt wonder how the state of North Carolina could help this child. (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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Jennie Fitzkee

Jennie Fitzkee

 

My name is Jennie Fitzkee. I am an Early Childhood Educator teaching the Full Day, multi-age class preschool class at Groton Community School in Groton, Mass. This my 33rd year of teaching preschool. Lucky me!

“Back in the day,” women were encouraged to become a nurse, secretary, or a teacher. Fortunately, I decided to become a teacher. I made a good career choice! I use the word “career” because teaching young children is far more than a job. It shapes the lives of children and educates parents. That is powerful; both a responsibility and a thrilling challenge. (more…)

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Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

Photo: Wrentham Public Schools

A message from Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children (SFC).

“As September starts, children and families across Massachusetts are heading back to school. Even programs that run for a full calendar year are enrolling new children and families and supporting these children as they make this transition. Some children are starting kindergarten and entering an elementary school for the first time. Some children are also entering a classroom for the first time because they’ve had no prior preschool experience. Indeed, national, state, and local data confirm that there is great variation in young children’s experiences during their first five years, and this is, unfortunately, where achievement gaps take root.

“There has been great interest in expanding high-quality early education opportunities for children in the commonwealth. Legislators filed several bills to do this work, however comprehensive pre-K expansion did not become state law this past legislative session. The state’s revenue picture remains challenging, and without additional revenue expanding access to high-quality early education and care will be difficult. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

There isn’t a lot of new state funding for early education and care for fiscal year 2017, but Massachusetts is holding steady, keeping existing funds flowing to provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced “$42 million in grant awards” for a number of initiatives to “support the quality and availability of early education and care programs” across the Commonwealth.

“High-quality early education and care programs provide children with a strong foundation for learning, academic success, and positive outcomes overall,” Baker said in a press release.

“We thank our early education providers and agency partners who work hard every day to provide our youngest learners with the tools they need to succeed in school and life,” Polito added. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The Massachusetts FY17 state budget eliminates funding for full-day kindergarten grants, an important program that supports kindergarten quality and districts’ transition from half- to full-day programs. Now local officials are responding to the news.

“More than $18 million has been slashed from a state program to expand full-day kindergarten, which could put a new strain on school districts’ already cash-strapped coffers,” the Gloucester Times reports.

“If unchanged, the cuts essentially gut funding for a full-day kindergarten program, forcing communities that depend on the money to trim their own budgets or otherwise make up the costs.

“School administrators are lobbying to restore the funding.

“Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the cuts will hurt, especially because many school districts have been expecting that money to cover full-time kindergarten costs for the coming year.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The Legislature has approved a $39.1 billion budget for FY17, one that will have a mixed impact on high-quality early education. Governor Baker now has 10 days to review the budget and make potential vetoes before signing it into law.

MassLive.com reports that the budget addresses “an estimated $750 million drop in revenues compared to what lawmakers originally proposed. The budget represents growth of just 2.6 percent compared to the 2016 budget.”

There are no new taxes or fees.

“The bill makes $260 million in spending cuts. It directs the administration to cut another $100 million through ‘procurement efficiencies,’ essentially coming up with places to trim spending across executive branch departments.”

The Boston Globe adds that the budget “avoids dramatic cuts by relying on a series of financial maneuvers to close a big gap in expected tax revenue for the fiscal year that begins Friday.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released a $39.497 billion state budget proposal for fiscal year 2017. The budget emphasizes the theme of “resilience,” and it makes strategic increased investments in education.

In her introductory message to the budget, Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka emphasized the importance of investing in children. “There is no more important place to plant the seed of resilience than within our children. Strong, resilient children will grow up to be active contributors to a productive and thriving Commonwealth… A healthy environment, especially during a child’s early formative years, is crucial for laying the foundation of resilience.”

Visit the Senate budget website for more details. (more…)

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