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Archive for the ‘MA Legislature’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

At a recent meeting of the Early Education and Care Workforce Council, The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) announced the recipients of the fiscal year 2019 preschool expansion grants.

Known as Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI), the program awarded funding to six communities: New Bedford, Somerville, North Adams, Springfield, Lowell, and Boston. The funds will support preschool programs from February 1 through June 30, 2019. EEC expects to renew these grants in fiscal year 2020.

This round of preschool expansion is funded with state dollars. However, more state funds will be needed in FY2020 to meet the demand for preschool funding from other communities. A total of 12 communities applied for the CPPI grant, and at least three additional communities wanted to apply but didn’t because of their limited time and capacity to meet the January 4th deadline. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Childen.

 

What’s the best way for states to pay for pre-K programs?

Should states use grants or tap into their K-12 funding formulas?

These are the questions posed by Aaron Loewenberg in a recent New America blog post, but the answers depend on whom you ask.

 

School funding formulas

“One obvious approach is to incorporate pre-K into the existing K-12 school funding formula,” W. Steven Barnett and Richard Kasmin wrote in an article published last year in The State Education Standard, the policy journal of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

Like the one used here in Massachusetts, state funding formulas calculate the cost of educating a “typical” student. The formulas then make adjustments to account for the added expense of educating students who have more needs, including students who have disabilities, come from low-income families, or are English language learners. (Massachusetts is currently debating changes to its school funding formula, and bills to do so have been filed by Governor Baker, and the House and Senate.) (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Here’s an advocacy message from Amy O’Leary about the new legislative session.

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Happy New Year! Are you ready to take action? 
We need each and every voice delivering the same, clear message to our elected officials at the local, state, and national level. We need to prioritize young children and families and the early education and care workforce. We must work together to make our voices heard.

Below you will find some key dates and ways to take action RIGHT NOW. Please share this information. Make a plan to get things done by the end of January. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Even if you have done this before, you need to do it again. YOU can do it. Our children are counting on us. We are happy to help. Contact us for more information.

FIRST, make sure you know who represents you in Washington and in the Massachusetts State House. Click here and enter your home address on the form and click the “Show my results” button. Print out these results so that you will have a list of your elected officials. (more…)

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“…in this era of snapchats, tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts, putdowns and smack-downs, I’d ask you all to remember that good public policy is about perseverance and collaboration.

“Many times, it is a story written frame by frame by many players who write it over time, relentlessly pursuing an objective.”

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“We doubled the earned income tax credit for 450,000 low income working families, invested over $100 million in new funding into our early education system and reduced the use of hotels and motels to shelter homeless families by over 95%.”

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“Twenty-five years ago, Massachusetts wasn’t a national leader in public education.

“Since then, we’ve achieved remarkable success by working together on a series of education reforms. As a result, Massachusetts students have scored number one on the National Assessment of Educational Progress exams in English and math for much of the past decade. And last year finished first on the Advanced Placement exams as well.

“But when it comes to the difference in performance between urban and suburban school districts, we can and must do better.”

“Transcript: Gov. Baker’s Inaugural Address For His 2nd Term,” WBUR, January 3, 2019

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“It’s like getting the band back together,” Pat Haddad (D-Somerset), Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, said of herself and some her colleagues who gathered at the State House on Tuesday for “Looking Back to Look Forward,” a Strategies for Children celebration of the tenth anniversary of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care, which became law in 2008.

Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad

Sponsored by Haddad and Senator Robert Antonioni (D-Leominster) and signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick, the new legislation was a bright step forward. It officially established Massachusetts’ Universal Pre-K (UPK) program, and outlined the responsibilities of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and for its board and commissioner.

“We had to block out some of the people who were naysayers,” Haddad said at the Looking Back event. But now, she explained, more and more legislators understand that building a universal pre-K program is “the right thing to do.”

The Legislature has never been able to fully fund UPK, but it has made progress, investing in scholarships for early educators and leveraging the power of federal preschool grant funds. (more…)

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Presidential Seminar panelists. Front row: Zaina Cahill and Rachel Giannini. Back row: Llanet Montoya, Mary Graham, and Amy O’Leary.

 

Earlier this month at the NAEYC Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., the Presidential Seminar featured a panel discussion about advocacy with both seasoned advocates and newer advocates who are just finding their advocacy voices.

“To achieve universally accessible, high-early early education and care in our country, we need to build a broad-based movement that is organized, guided and supported by a diverse leadership that has as its core the voices of those who directly work with children and families,” the panel’s description explains, adding that to make a difference for children, families, and the field, early educators should understand that, “We are the ones we have been waiting for – we need to be the change we want to see in the world!”

The panel was planned and moderated by Amy O’Leary, NAEYC’s president and the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All campaign.

The panel discussion was also featured in the Education Dive article, “Panelists stress need for educators to play dual role as pre-K policy advocates.” (more…)

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Please join Strategies for Children at the State House at10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, December 11, 2018, for Looking Back to Look Forward — a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the law that formally established Massachusetts’ Universal Pre-Kindergarten program. 

The bill — An Act Relative to Early Education and Care (Chapter 215 of the Acts of 2008) — was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick. This landmark legislation was sponsored by Education Committee Co-Chairs Senator Robert Antonioni and Representative Patricia Haddad, and it passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.

This legal victory built on progress that was made in 2005, when Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to launch an independent, consolidated department with a primary focus on early childhood learning and care, the Department of Early Education and Care. This achievement was the culmination of years of work by advocates and policymakers. A report and executive summary from the Rennie Center cover this history. (more…)

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