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Archive for the ‘MA state budget’ Category

 

Last week, 350 people (many of them strategically wearing red) came to the Massachusetts State House for Advocacy Day for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs.

 

Caitlin Jones and Leishla Diaz of The Guild of St. Agnes in Worcester

 

The morning started with speeches from legislators and the commissioner of Early Education and Care – as well as remarks from a parent and from another parent who became an early educator.

 

 

Afterwards, attendees went to meet with the legislators. Here’s a recap of what the speakers said. (more…)

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Today is Advocacy Day 2020 for Early Education & Care and School Age Programs and there are TWO ways to participate. 

You can come to the Massachusetts State House. Here’s the schedule:

9:30 a.m.

Registration in the Great Hall

10:00 a.m.

Speakers – including Early Education and Care Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy

11:15 a.m.

Meetings with Legislators

 

Or you can participate right from your program by:

• finding your elected officials and their contact information by going to www.WhereDoIVoteMA.com

• following them on social media

• taking pictures of your program and share them with your state representatives and state senators on Facebook and Twitter. Use the hashtags #ValueEarlyEducators and #ValueAfterSchoolEducators

 

The next step? Keep the advocacy going! In the coming weeks and months you can: (more…)

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What does it take to expand pre-K? Take a look at Holyoke, Mass.

That’s where officials used a federal Preschool Expansion Grant to enroll children in high-quality early education programs and to reach out to and engage parents.

What made Holyoke successful?

Tune into Episode 51 of the Gateways Podcast to find out. The podcast, which is sponsored by local think tank MassINC, looks at lessons learned and future strategies.

Hosted by Ben Forman, MassINC’s research director, episode 51’s guests were:

• Amy O’Leary, director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All Campaign

• Steve Huntley, executive director of the Valley Opportunity Council, and

• Stephen Zrike, Holyoke Public Schools’ receiver and superintendent.

In a LinkedIn post, Tom Weber, the former commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Early Education and Care, called the podcast “a thoughtful discussion of an innovative public-partnership model that has delivered strong student outcomes…”

What’s next for Holyoke and other cities that want to expand pre-K?

As we’ve blogged, they could choose to use new Student Opportunity Act funding to invest in high-quality pre-K programs.

The sooner cities act the better, because as Amy explains in the podcast:

“All the research tells us that if we invest earlier and have high-quality programs, we’re going to see benefits for children and families.”

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“The new promise of additional funding from the state, as well as an encouragement from the state’s education commissioner, has some school officials and early childhood education advocates hoping free preschool could be the next big push in public education in Massachusetts.

“But funding constraints, even with the passage of the Student Opportunity Act and its $1.5 billion for public schools, as well as logistical challenges could hinder local efforts to invest in prekindergarten programming, at least in the short term.”

“ ‘I don’t see why we can’t do it,’ said Spencer-East Brookfield Superintendent Paul Haughey, one of the school officials in the region who has plans to bring free full-day preschool to his district. ‘But it’s going to have a price tag.’ ”

“Other districts in the region, including Worcester, however, appear less committed, citing a shortage of space for classrooms and limited funding.

“ ‘We’ve discussed it, but at the present point, we have other needs,’ said Worcester Superintendent Maureen Binienda, who added her administration is ‘kind of keeping it on the shelf.’ ”

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“ ‘It would be quicker for a community’ to take on the challenge of creating or expanding full-day preschool, [Amy O’Leary, director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All campaign] said, using annual Chapter 70 funding provided by the state through the Act, instead of relying on federal and state grants.

“At the very least, O’Leary said, the Student Opportunity Act implementation process will give school officials a reason to ‘sit down together and get a better understanding of the needs of students across the full age spectrum … this is an opportunity to take stock of what we’re doing.’ ”

“State funding hike opens door for more public early ed, but challenges remain,” by Scott O’Connell, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette, February 8, 2020

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

In Massachusetts, there’s a new state law on the books – the Student Opportunity Act. It calls on school districts to close the achievement gap by investing historic new state funding for education ($1.5 billion over seven years) in proven solutions.

One solution that districts can choose: high-quality early education and care.

Districts have until April 1, 2020, to develop and submit their plans for closing the gap to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley explained last fall that school superintendents have to work with school committees to develop:

“…a three-year, evidence-based plan to address persistent disparities in achievement among student subgroups. In developing its plan, each district must consider input and recommendations from parents and other community stakeholders, including special education and English learner parent advisory councils, school improvement councils, and educators.” (more…)

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“We are gearing up for Advocacy Day on March 5, but advocacy can happen all throughout the year, and can take many forms,” Amy O’Leary says.

That’s the advice Amy shared yesterday during Advocacy 101, a webinar sponsored by Strategies for Children. A video of the webinar is posted here.

Called “If Not Us, Then Who?”, the webinar is the first installment in what will be a series put together by Amy, Strategies’ director of the Early Education for All Campaign, and Titus DosRemedios, our director of research and policy.

Advocacy, Amy says in the webinar, has many faces. It can mean testifying at the State House or talking to your Uber driver. It can mean being out front or working behind the scenes.

One strategy? Speak up where you feel comfortable. (more…)

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Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker released his state budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 (FY’21).

His proposal increases investments in early education and care, which would make FY’21 the eighth consecutive year of increased investments.

Specifically, the governor’s proposal increases spending in areas including child care access (line items 3000-3060 and 3000-4060); rate increases for early educator salaries (3000-1042); and the new Sliding Fee Scale Reserve to help reduce parent fees for subsidized child care (3000-1043).

MassLive.com reports that the budget includes “a proposed $92.3 million funding boost for early childcare providers and childcare voucher programs.

“Nearly half of the funding increase would go toward childcare vouchers set aside for the Department of Children and Families and subsidized vouchers for families receiving assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance, according to the Department of Early Education and Care.”

Recent state budget increases are being supported in part by historic federal budget increases for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

Visit our website for a full listing of early education and care line items in the state budget. And visit Mass.gov for more details on the governor’s proposal.

And please join Strategies for Children for an Advocacy 101 webinar on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, where we will discuss Governor Baker’s budget proposal and prepare for Advocacy Day at the State House on Thursday, March 5, 2020. Click here to register for Advocacy 101. 

For more information contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org or (617) 330-7387.

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