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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

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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Mid-summer is here with its long days and slower pace, so why not kick back and watch some videos on our revamped YouTube channel.

It’s a “greatest hits” collection of 50 videos that have been featured in the blog – all compiled by our media-savvy intern Nicolette Forsey.

These videos are great for advocates who want to learn more or use videos to educate policymakers and the public.

Looking for an overview? Wheelock College recently posted a video on the importance of early education and care featuring state leaders such as Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care, and Carlos Sanchez, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education.

Need a quick hit? The First Five Years Fund’s PowerPoint-style video, “Early Learning Matters,” is one minute and 53 seconds worth of big-picture preschool advocacy. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Friday, July 7, 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the state’s fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget calls for $40.2 billion in spending, according to MassLive.com. That’s an increase of $1 billion over last year.

 

Funding highlights for early education and care include:

 

• $15 million for a workforce rate reserve

 

• $200,000 for preschool planning grants, and

 

• $1 million for Reach Out and Read

 

Total FY’18 funding for early education will be higher than FY’17 levels, but still several million dollars lower than the budgets that the House and Senate approved just a few months ago. 

 

The next step in the budget process: The FY’18 budget awaits Governor Charlie Baker’s signature. 

 

Please contact Governor Baker and urge him to sign the budget into law, preserving investments in high-quality early education. 

 

Show your support for the early education workforce: email the Governor now or call his office at: 617.725.4005.

 

For more information visit the Strategies for Children state budget webpage, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org.

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A guest post by Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children

Jason Sachs and Chris Martes testifying at the State House

Tuesday was a sunny June day, so you may have missed the State House hearing on a range of early education and care bills.

Amy O’Leary and I — along with our colleagues from cities and towns and other organizations — testified in support of “An Act ensuring high quality early education,” H.2874 filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and S.240 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

We shared our goals with the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Representative Peisch and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain).

Budgetwise, it’s a tough time to ask for more funding. Massachusetts’ revenue forecast can best be described as partly sunny with a chance of car-denting hail. Look for “modest growth” of 3.9 percent.

Fortunately, our bill is an ideal fit for these economic times. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Today, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for early education and care bills filed in the 2017-2018 session. Strategies for Children (SFC) urges the committee to report favorably on An Act Ensuring High-Quality Early Education H.2874 and S.240, lead sponsors: Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

 

The problem:

Massachusetts has a significant and persistent achievement gap that’s evident long before children enter school. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many of them will never catch up. It’s time to level the playing field for Massachusetts children. The state could and should do more to invest in young children’s early learning.

Experts agree that high-quality preschool has a short- and long-term impact on young children’s educational, social and health outcomes. Preventing problems now, rather than remediating them later, is a cost-effective investment that benefits children and taxpayers alike.

High-quality preschool helps establish a strong foundation for children’s learning in K-12, but currently an estimated 40% of the commonwealth’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any formal preschool program. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate passed a $40.4 billion budget. During the budget debate, Senators adopted four amendments for early education, adding $500,000 to the total budget of the Department of Education and Care, including $100,000 for a comprehensive workforce study to be conducted by UMass Boston (3000-1020). Click here for specific line items and funding levels. 

The next step in the FY18 budget process: the House and Senate will appoint three members each to a Conference Committee, which will reconcile the differences between the House and Senate proposals. Once out of conference committee and approved by the House and Senate, the budget will go to Governor Baker. He will have ten days to review the bill, sign it, and announce any vetoes and amendments. 

Millions of dollars are at stake for high-quality early education and early educators in Massachusetts. Your advocacy is needed. Contact your legislators now!

At stake in the budget negotiations is $10 million for the early educator workforce salary rate reserve — as well as $15.1 million for preschool implementation and planning grants. Here’s a full list of early eduction budget items.

(more…)

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