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Amy O’Leary

“Two of the questions that almost always come up are, ‘How did you go from being a preschool teacher to a director to a lobbyist?’ and ‘How did you get involved in policy and advocacy?’ ”

“I often respond first with, ‘I believe in learning by doing. So far I have been able to use the same skills I needed to captivate 5-year-olds at circle time to engage with legislators at the state house.’ I want early educators to believe that they are leaders and can do anything.”

“As I share my story, I am also thinking about LEAP—the Leadership Empowerment Action Project—which helped to provide an incredible foundation in advocacy and policy to me and to early educators across Massachusetts and the country.”

 

“From Our President. On the Journey to Leadership and Empowerment,” by Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All Campaign at Strategies for Children and president of the NAEYC Governing Board, Young Children, May 2019

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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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(America heads to the polls today. Be sure to vote!)

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In red or blue states, early childhood education is popular across the country.

That’s what the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) has found after analyzing years of its own and other organization’s national polling data.

“Our analysis of this aggregate survey data found that national polling over the last decade shows quality early childhood education is a top priority issue for Americans of every political persuasion,” FFYF explains.

Every year, there has been “a consistent and growing desire among Americans across the political spectrum” for more investments and innovation in early childhood programs, especially for children from low-income families, FFYF’s report, “Early Childhood Education: The Public is Ready for Action,” explains.

This analysis creates “an evidence-based vision of where Americans stand on investing in high-quality ECE, and where policymakers can make stronger connections with their constituents’ priorities. This arsenal of individual polls paints an even brighter picture when studied together as a collective body of research.”

Among the report’s key findings: (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

California is trying to lower the number of preschool expulsions by giving these programs a way to fund more access to mental health services. As Education Week reports, this is the result of a new state law that was enacted last month.

Specifically, the law increases the reimbursement rate by 5 percent for each low-income child, age 0 to 5, who receive services. As Education Week explains, “…if a classroom has 20 children and 10 of them are subsidized, the program would be reimbursed at a rate of 10.5 children.”

This law builds on a 2017 California law that makes it harder for preschool programs that receive state funding to expel students.

On the website State of Reform, Sarah Neville-Morgan, the director of the Early Education and Support Division at the California Department of Education, says “Expulsion works against everything that is best practice for children, families and child care programs. This law creates the support system necessary to keep young children in preschool and child care facilities.” (more…)

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Amy O’Leary speaking at the Massachusetts State House. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

If you’re happy and you know it, as the classic preschool song goes, clap your hands — and be sure to read Amy O’Leary’s first column for Young Children, a publication of NAEYC (the National Association for the Education of Young Children).

Amy — NAEYC’s governing board president and the director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All campaign — explains in the column how she has used the strategies that she learned as a preschool teacher to motivate adults — whether they are funders, legislators, or other early educators.

“I led sing-alongs in conference rooms across Boston with executives at large banks and partners at law firms. It was my way of bringing a little bit of the early education world into places that were new to me and intimidating.”

As president, Amy’s attention is on the future. She writes:

“We need to think about what could be and not focus only on what has already been.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

The third in a three-part series on summer learning.

Parents and educators have long been worried about summer learning loss. But as we’ve recently blogged, summer learning is efforts are benefitting from national attention and action in cities.

Today we’re sharing a round-up of summer learning resources for parents, educators, and advocates.

For Parents, Educators, and Librarians

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers parents five tips for promoting their children’s summer learning.

Among the suggestions: (more…)

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“Leading the Way,” is a series featuring the next generation of leaders in the field of early education and care.

Lynn Santiago-Calling

For Lynn Santiago-Calling, leadership means connecting people.

Santiago-Calling is the new executive director of MAAEYC, the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children, and she is working to help the organization grow.

MAAEYC is an affiliate of NAEYC, the National Association for Education of Young Children. Affiliates share NAEYC’s “core value” of “creating opportunities to widen our reach to early educators.”

“Our goal,” Santiago-Calling says, “is to move the profession forward.”

How? The organization is developing a strategic, five-year plan, and Santiago-Calling is building relationships. She and MAAEYC’s board want to increase membership and attract younger early educators.

“I’ve been going out to chapter meetings to get to know people, but those are the people who are already involved and engaged. I also want to hear from folks who are members but not actively engaged and ask them why aren’t you actively engaged? What can we do to engage you? Is there something that we’re missing? I want to hear from our members — and from nonmembers as well.” (more…)

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