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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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Photo: Massachusetts Department of Higher Education Twitter page

 

Imagine a preschool teacher who has the entire community on speed dial.

This preschool teacher could consult with local education professors, public school teachers, or a local librarian.

All these contacts would help the preschool teacher grow professionally and become more effective in the classroom.

If this sounds like a powerful idea, then check out the Improving Teacher Quality-Early Learning Toolkit. It’s a blueprint developed by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) that explains how higher education, public education, community partners, and early educators can all collaborate to improve outcomes for young children. (more…)

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“Here we are growing a team at Zion Education Center with teachers with certificates to teach… and I couldn’t speak the language. And that’s why I went back and obtained my doctorate in instructional management and educational leadership, because I felt that in order for me to grow my team, grow my staff, and to better serve the families within our community, which are low-income, economically disadvantaged families, I needed to know what was happening at every level — local, county, state, federal — that would invest in our kids.

“And so having that team, a great team, in place, [with the] same mission, and same focus to shape the lives of those children and pull them out of poverty, pull their families out of poverty, through early childhood education with a diverse workforce — both caucasian and African-American females, some with Asian descent, and, yes, we have some male representation, too — we needed our workforce to look like, or my team to look like the children that we serve. And that’s how we best identify with them.”

 

April Torrence, founder and executive director of the Zion Education Center, at New America’s event, Exploring Diversity in the Early Care & Education Workforce, May 2, 2019

Torrence was part of a panel discussion that also included:

Maria Martinez, teacher, Greenbelt Children’s Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Maria Potts, co-manager and teacher, Kids World Child Care, Fairfax, Va., and,

Danny Vasquez, lead teacher, ACCA Child Development Center, Annandale, Va.

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Photo Source: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Instagram page.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) was in town this morning at Tufts University to talk about early education. Joining Speaker Pelosi were members of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation – Congresswomen Katherine Clark, Ayanna Pressley, and Lori Trahan.

To watch a recap, go to the Tisch College Facebook page. The event was hosted by the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, which is based at Tufts.

The Twitter hashtag is #speakerinthehouse.

Speaker Pelosi offered the following remarks in support of children, families, and educators:

“Everything that we do has to be about the children and their future.”

“When people want to run for office… I always say ‘know your why.’ If you know your why, you’ll know your what, and you’ll know how to get things done because you’ll know your purpose. My why has always been the 1 in 5 children in America who lives in poverty.”

“When people ask me what the three most important issues facing the Congress are, I always say the same thing: our children, our children, our children. Their health, their education, the economic security of their families, a safe healthy environment where they can thrive, and a world at peace where they can reach their fulfillment.”

“Child care – children learning, parents earning, it’s all central to their well-being.”

“I congratulate Tufts for what is happening here at Elliot Pearson. It’s just remarkable.”  Tufts’ Eliot-Pearson Children’s School is a laboratory school that focuses on practice and research. 

Pelosi’s appearance is part of her “ ‘Speaker in the House’ series, which seeks to engage communities across the country and ensure the voices of the American people are being heard in the halls of Congress,” according to Tisch College’s website.

MassLive.com covers the event here.

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Moms, dads, toddlers, and babies from all 50 states came to the Washington, D.C., this week for Strolling Thunder.

During this annual event, families meet with members of Congress to talk about making child care more affordable, expanding paid family leave, and increasing funding for health care and early education.

“As parents, we must advocate, communicate and collaborate with all agencies serving and caring for our babies,” said Anna Akins, a Strolling Thunder parent from Louisiana, says in a press release from Zero to Three, the national nonprofit that organizes the event, which is part of the Think Babies campaign. “Our babies’ lives are depending on our voices. Let us continue to speak up and out about the importance of all things that help our babies thrive.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

The Massachusetts state budget process is underway, so it’s time to advocate for early education and care.

So far, Governor Charlie Baker has filed his FY20 budget proposal.

The House has also debated and passed its budget. And while the House budget includes an important investment in early educator salaries, through a $20 million rate reserve, it does not include any funding for preschool expansion grants. This could have been addressed by a $15 million amendment filed by Rep. Jay Livingstone (D-Boston) that would have funded the state’s Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative. But ultimately, this amendment was not included in the education and local aid amendment that did pass.

Here’s the recent funding history:

Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (3000-6025)
FY19 Final budget: $5,000,000
FY20 Governor’s budget: $2,500,000
FY20 House budget: not funded
FY20 Senate budget: TBD (more…)

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Mayor Marty Walsh at a Pre-K-to-2nd Grade Art Exhibition held by the Higginson Inclusion School. (Mayor’s Office Photo by Isabel Leon)

 

“It was a 2013 campaign pledge from Marty Walsh that, if voters picked him, every 4-year-old in Boston would have the right to go to a high-quality preschool. Under a budget proposal submitted last week, Walsh is making good on that promise, with a $15 million infusion to fund the remaining 750 seats needed to reach full coverage.

“That means by 2025 Boston will be able to offer preschool to about 4,000 4-year-olds.”

“So what about the rest of the state? Only about a quarter of preschool age children in Massachusetts have publicly financed early education and care, according to advocacy group Strategies for Children. The state has helped fund efforts like Boston’s and is planning to continue to do so. House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s budget proposal for the third year in a row calls for a $20 million increase to boost the pay of early educators.

“Boston has led the way on universal pre-K, and now it’s time for other cities in the Commonwealth to follow suit. It will take a village: a variety of funding mechanisms and the willingness to experiment.”

“Editorial: Boston’s path to universal preschool offers lessons for other cities,” The Boston Globe, April 15, 2019

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