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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

Rebecca Ruiz

 

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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I run my own childcare service directly from my home. In September, I will have been in the education and care field for eight years.

I support children by creating an academically and emotionally supportive environment. I do this by scaffolding lessons that educate the whole child, by giving my daycare children the tools they need to be socially and emotionally successful, and by creating a welcoming environment for all families.

I’ve had many Yes! I know you can do it moments in my career, and every single one of them can be considered my most proud moment. Most of these moments occur when I see the skills that my daycare children have acquired through hard work and persistence, such as when a child learns how to walk, say their first word, trace their name, and read their first word. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Wednesday, Massachusetts’ six-member legislative conference committee released a $41.88 billion state budget for fiscal year 2019 that reconciles the differences between the House’s and Senate’s budget proposals. The Legislature passed the budget, and it now heads to Governor Baker who has 10 days to sign it into law, and can make line item vetoes.

Massachusetts readers, take action: Ask Governor Baker to sign the budget, and continue his support of high-quality early education and care.

The committee invested in high-quality early education. Nine out of 13 line items of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) were in play because the House and Senate had funded them at different levels.

In each instance, the committee chose the higher funding level: $20 million for the early educator salary rate reserve, $10 million for a new early educator workforce development initiative, $5 million for preschool expansion, $1 million for Reach Out and Read, and more. Visit our website for details.

We thank the members of the Conference Committee:

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez (D-Boston)
Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington)
Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren)
Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka (D-Ashland)
Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem), and
Senator Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth)

MassLive.com covers the budget here.

A Boston Globe budget story is posted here.

To advocate, send a message to Governor Baker today.

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Here at Strategies for Children, we’ve been lucky to have a first-rate group of interns. They help us expand our research, outreach, and advocacy.

Currently, we have three interns whom we’re happy to introduce: Anna Lenihan, Alexis Rickmers, and Becca Smith. Here’s a little more about each of them.

 

Anna Lenihan

I am a senior at Wake Forest University working towards a major in Psychology and a minor in Schools, Education, and Society. I plan on teaching for a few years and doing community-based work before entering the field of educational policy. My time at Strategies for Children has allowed me to see the importance of advocacy and community partnerships. At SFC, I have worked on connecting early childhood educators with government officials in order to emphasize the statewide importance of early childhood education. Strategies has allowed me to see how policy and advocacy can influence change at both the local and state level.

As a Cambridge native, I feel deeply invested in the quality of education in Massachusetts. I believe that education can change the world and that access to quality early childhood education gives children of all backgrounds the foundation they need to fulfill their potential. From the classroom to the State House, Strategies has given me the opportunity to see how change is truly made. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) put its annual report to the Legislature on line in February. It’s a helpful resource for advocates and other sector stakeholders that looks back at how Massachusetts invested in young children in 2017. It highlights the state’s past progress in key areas getting attention in 2018, such as workforce supports and early childhood mental health. The state has done lots of good work that it can be proud of — and it has challenges that require attention and creative solutions.

“The Department of Early Education and Care serves as the entry point of Massachusetts’ birth to 21 education pipeline,” the report says. Guided by its Strategic Plan, EEC is working to make progress in four areas: (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Monday, the Massachusetts Legislature announced the six conference committee members who will negotiate differences between House and Senate proposals for the fiscal year 2019 state budget.

Budget Conference Committee:

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez
Representative Stephen Kulik
Representative Todd Smola

Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka
Senator Joan Lovely
Senator Vinny deMacedo

Now is the time for advocacy! Please take a moment to ask the conference committee to invest in early educators.

Millions of dollars are at stake in this year’s budget, including $28.5 million for the early education and care workforce. Please take action to ensure the maximum possible investment in the commonwealth’s young children, families, and early educators. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Thursday, May 10, 2018, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka released a $41.42 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2019.

The Senate budget is slightly higher than Governor Baker’s proposal and slightly lower than the House budget.

For early education and care, the Senate budget invests $5 million in preschool expansion, increases funds for child care resource and referral agencies, and level funds most other programs. Unlike the House, the Senate budget does not include a rate reserve for early educator salaries.

The Senate budget’s executive summary states: “Skills learned in early childhood directly impact future academic achievement and personal and economic success. The Committee’s budget invests in kids beginning at birth and seeks to remove barriers to access and quality care.”

Additional reporting on the Senate budget and its implications can be found at MassLive and The Boston Globe.

The Senate will debate amendments to the budget on May 22. Visit Strategies for Children’s website for a complete list of early education line items.

Stay tuned for more information on amendments and advocacy opportunities.

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) has released its annual yearbook — a comprehensive look at publicly-funded preschool programs — and found a mix of progress and stagnation: There are more preschool spots, but states aren’t investing enough in program quality. This year’s assessment also includes a special report on Dual Language Learners.

“Recent changes in federal policy – including the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – make it clear that progress in early education depends more than ever on the states,” NIEER Senior Co-Director Steven Barnett said.

Looking at the 2016-2017 academic year, the Yearbook notes that:

• across the country “state-funded preschool program enrollment exceeded 1.5 million children” or “33 percent of 4-year-olds and 5 percent of 3-year-olds”

• state funding for preschool rose two percent to some $7.6 billion, an increase of nearly $155 million (adjusted for inflation) since 2015-2016

• state funding per child was $5,008, a slight decline from 2015-16 adjusted for inflation

• 3 state-funded preschool programs met all 10 new quality standards benchmarks

• 10 programs met fewer than half, and

• 7 states do not invest any state dollars in preschool

In its assessment of state policies for Dual Language Learners, NIEER reduces its findings to two words: “Needs Improvement.”  (more…)

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