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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Here’s some great news: The Baker-Polito administration and the Massachusetts Legislature have just announced that early education will get an additional 2 percent rate increase.

This increase “is in addition to the 6 percent rate hike that all state-subsidized early education and care programs received earlier this year – worth $28.6 million – which was the largest rate hike in more than a decade,” according to a press release.

“The Board of Early Education and Care voted yesterday afternoon to approve the additional 2 percent rate increase, retroactive to July 1, 2017.” The increase will go to the daily reimbursement rate for center-based child care programs and for family child care systems. “The funding for the additional 2 percent rate increase was made possible through an increase in the fiscal year 2018 state budget.”

Governor Charlie Baker said of the increase, “This is a significant investment in rate increases that will help improve the quality of early education and care programs for thousands of families in every zip code.” (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Adornetto

 

In Pittsfield, we know how important early education is. Children who don’t get a strong start can’t read proficiently by third grade. In our city, 2017 MCAS data shows that only 44 percent of third graders are proficient in English and only 44 percent are proficient in math. We want to see these numbers improve because, to put it bluntly, children who struggle to read may also struggle to succeed.

Because helping children takes a team approach, in 2012, the Berkshire United Way formed Pittsfield Promise, a coalition focused on ensuring that our third-graders can read proficiently. To achieve this goal, members of the coalition work closely with early childhood programs, social service and health providers, businesses, and community members.

In 2016, Pittsfield was awarded a preschool expansion grant. We are using this funding to create a collaboration between the Pittsfield Public Schools and two local center-based early childhood programs.

In this mixed-delivery model, the Pittsfield Public Schools is the lead partner and fiduciary agent. (more…)

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“Long acknowledged as a valuable learning opportunity with proven success, many families simply can’t afford preschool or are on waiting lists for affordable spots to open. New Bedford and Fall River are among 15 communities where stakeholders have been working to address this issue and prepare for growth. Next steps toward implementation require the passage of an initiative that would allow preschool expansion to be funded.

“One such initiative is An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education; a bill that calls on the Department of Early Education and Care and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a grant program to fund high-quality, pre-K programs. The grants would be awarded to cities and towns that are ready that already have state-approved implementation plans as well as large percentages of high-needs students.”

“Your View: Preschoolers deserve quality education,” by Kathleen Treglia, SouthCoast Today, November 12, 2017

Strategies for Children continues to advocate for passage of An Act Ensuring High Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education (H.2874, S.240). Massachusetts residents, please click here to tell your state legislators to pass the bill.

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

What’s the cost of not having universal pre-K?

The Center for American Progress has an $83 billion answer.

“Based on research that quantifies long-term economic outcomes in states that have high-quality preschool, this analysis concludes the United States would expect to see a net benefit of more than $83.3 billion for each one-year cohort of 4-year-olds,” the center says in its article, “The Cost of Inaction on Universal Preschool.”

“In other words, every year that policymakers delay a universal preschool investment, the United States loses billions of dollars that come from preschool’s economic benefits—such as less frequent grade retention and a reduced need for special education.”

That would be a huge savings for taxpayers.

Early education also has substantial economic benefits for children themselves: (more…)

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House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

As the Houston Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers slug it out in the World Series, playing 10 innings for more than five hours in Game 5, House Speaker Robert DeLeo is once again going to bat for children – using baseball to make the case for early literacy.

DeLeo was speaking at Raising a Reader Massachusetts’ third annual Leadership in Literacy Award Breakfast where he was being honored as the Legislator of the Year.

“Some of you may know that I’m a big baseball fan,” DeLeo said at the breakfast. “So, I was struck by a Strategies for Children report that equated the experience of watching a game at Fenway Park with learning to read.”

That report is “Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success,” written by Nonie Lesaux, a Harvard Graduate School of Education professor. It’s on page two that the the report tells the story of two children at Fenway Park.

DeLeo explained it this way:

“The report followed the experiences of two 10 year olds at Fenway Park: one child whose father exposed her to baseball at an early age, explained the rules of the game to her, and sparked her love for the sport. She knows when to cheer, and when to boo.  (more…)

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Screenshot of New America’s report.

 

What does high-quality pre-K look like?

It depends on where you look, according to a new report from the think tank New America.

“Since publicly funded pre-K programs are guided by varying intents, regulations, and funding approaches, there is little continuity in early learning. There are uneven standards for program quality, variable hours of coverage, incongruent eligibility requirements, and competing demands for accountability.”

Despite this “uneven” practice, the research does provide clear answers of what quality looks like.

To get a sharp picture of quality, New America’s report — “Indispensable Policies & Practices for High-Quality Pre-K: Research & Pre-K Standards Review” — “synthesizes recent meta-analyses and other studies” and “analyzes existing pre-K quality standards.”

Six themes emerged from this process: (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Early educators’ salaries are unconscionably low, but Massachusetts leaders are starting to address this.

The Washington Post sounded an alarm about early educators’ salaries last year, reporting:

“The people who are paid to watch America’s children tend to live in poverty. Nearly half receive some kind of government assistance: food stamps, welfare money, Medicaid. Their median hourly wage is $9.77 — about $3 below the average janitor’s.”

The post cited a report written by Marcy Whitebook, noting:

“In a new report, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley warn that child care is too vital to the country’s future to offer such meager wages. Those tasked with supporting kids, they explain, are shaping much of tomorrow’s workforce.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo had shared a similar warning a few months earlier, the Boston Globe reported. DeLeo declared that the early education workforce was “in crisis.” (more…)

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