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Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Cities and Towns’ Category

“We don’t have to talk anymore about the value of early childhood education: everyone agrees it’s critical. We do, however, have to talk about affordability, logistics and policy. With preschool tuition running $10,000-$30,000 per year, the cost of sending one child to preschool can be more than a family’s rent or mortgage. Early childhood education is not just a child development issue, it’s an economic one…”

“To address this issue, the city convened an Early Childhood Task Force in 2014. Its 2015 report articulates the admirable vision that “all children in Cambridge [will] receive high quality early education and care from birth through third grade,” and recommends initial steps toward that goal…”

“To start this process, the council and committee will have a joint roundtable discussion this fall. One of the main tasks of the roundtable should be to set a deadline by which a comprehensive system of early childhood education will be in place. A deadline will force us to answer, sooner rather than later, the questions related to policy, financing, and logistics.

“Some of those questions are: (more…)

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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: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) has announced its 2017 All-America City Award Finalists, and tomorrow it will announce the winners at an event in Denver, Colo.

“Each year, the All-America City Award, America’s oldest and most prestigious community recognition, is given to communities that exemplify outstanding civic accomplishments,” CGLR’s website says. “In 2017, NCL and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading will recognize communities that have made measurable progress for low-income children on the key drivers of early reading success.”

We’re proud to note that two of this year’s finalists are Springfield and Worcester.

“Springfield has been recognized as a Community Pacesetter for making measurable progress in school attendance, summer learning and overall grade-level reading for children from low-income families,” according to a press release. (more…)

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

Children in one of our PEG classrooms. Eligibility requirements for PEG ensure that children in the program have not received previous educational opportunities and, presumably, would have started Kindergarten with no preschool experience

Lawrence is one of five Massachusetts communities implementing the federal Preschool Expansion Grant. This high-quality model funds 10 preschool classrooms for 130 of Lawrence’s children. The community also has a three-year strategic plan for further preschool expansion. Beyond serving more children, the plan includes cataloguing all local early education programs, engaging families in program planning, and creating a data sharing platform to help programs and agencies collaborate to serve children and families.

In Lawrence, the key components of school readiness for our 1,500 preschool and kindergarten children include connecting with families positively and early on; collaborating with community agencies in order to support children and teachers, as well as building systems for transitioning into the public schools; and supporting the whole child as well as the whole family so that we can improve stability for our families. (more…)

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Screenshot: NIEER’s website.

 

The State of Preschool 2016 has just been released by NIEER (the National Institute for Early Education Research) and it’s chock full of data about state-funded preschools during the 2015-2016 school year.

A great deal has changed since 2002, when NIEER released its first yearbook. At that time, “only two states served 50 percent of 4-year-olds and just three served more than 30 percent (which is now below the national average).”

Now, the yearbook points to examples of “remarkable progress,” noting:

“State funded preschool continued to grow in access, spending, and supports for quality,” and “enrollment and spending per child increased, as did states’ total investment in preschool.”

There is also bad news:  (more…)

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

Literacy and music

Holyoke is one of five Massachusetts communities implementing the federal Preschool Expansion Grant. This high-quality model funds four preschool classrooms for 76 of Holyoke’s children. The city also has an ambitious preschool expansion plan: Holyoke wants to have a universal Pre-K program that would serve 300 more children, have an additional 19 more classrooms, and add 65 more teachers with bachelor’s degrees by the year 2020. Holyoke is ready for new public investments in early education.

The Staff at the Valley Opportunity Council’s (VOC) Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) Program in Holyoke works hard to create an interest based curriculum that engages our youngest learners in exciting and educational interactive activities.

A hands-on approach to learning provides children with the tools and techniques to guide their own investigation and exploration. Our teachers become support systems for expanding the learning process and give autonomy to the children. We engage expansion of literacy skills by using “big words” and providing definitions for concepts that children are learning. No word is too big, no question is too small. No matter the topic we explore it all! (more…)

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