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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Last month the event “Action for Boston Children: A Plan for BPS’ Future,” was held at The Boston Foundation. The panelists in this photograph are: Boston City Council President Andrea Campbell (at podium); Brenda Cassellius, Superintendent, Boston Public Schools; Latoya Gayle, Executive Director, Boston School Finder; Amy O’Leary, Director of Strategies for Children’s Education for All Campaign; and Paul Reville, Former Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor.

 

“Today, until a child turns four or five, it can feel to families as though there is no place to go. The birth to four landscape is dominated by private providers that can be hard to find, and to afford. A patchwork of funding sources and cumbersome state and federal requirements that families cannot meet or do not understand contribute to locking out many children and families from access to quality childcare. We should start by asking what parents and families need to ensure that their children are on the strongest path to a life of learning and outcomes. And if we ask that question, it’s hard not to arrive at the conclusion that a comprehensive view of birth to five is the way forward.”

“Action for Boston Children,” a report released by Andrea Campbell, president of the Boston City Council, June 2019

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Local communities are ready for preschool expansion, but often lack the funds to get started. Absent a clear federal or state path for preschool expansion, innovative local leaders are forging ahead using a variety of collaborative approaches.

Last week, Strategies for Children hosted a webinar on this topic: “Local Preschool Financing Strategies in Massachusetts.” Three communities presented their work, and 15 other communities participated in the webinar.

Here’s a recap of the event and the topics we discussed.

We heard from Holyoke, Springfield, and Boston, all communities that are leading the way on financing more preschool spots for children through a mixed-delivery system.

Presentations were made by: (more…)

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“Every child in Virginia is capable of success in school and beyond if they have access to the resources they need during those critical first five years of life. We are bringing our leading early childhood experts and policymakers together to align our priorities and make scalable and sustainable improvements to better serve Virginia’s littlest learners.”

— Virginia’s First Lady Pamela Northam

 

The Early Childhood Education Summit provided “an opportunity for superintendents and school leaders from around the Commonwealth to hear from education experts, engage in conversations with state officials about statewide policies, and learn from local communities collaborating creatively to improve access to and quality of early childhood education programs.”

“Governor Ralph Northam and First Lady Pamela Northam have taken many steps to improve school readiness for at-risk three- and four-year-olds in the last six months. In August, Governor Northam announced the completion of a statewide Early Childhood Education Needs Assessment and draft Strategic Plan that were produced through the $9.9 million federal Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5) that the Commonwealth was awarded in January. The Needs Assessment identifies gaps in Virginia’s early childhood system and the draft Strategic Plan outlines the goals and priorities for unifying and strengthening early childhood care and education in Virginia.”

“First Lady Pamela Northam, Virginia Secretary of Education Host Summit on Early Childhood Education,” press release from the Office of Governor Northam, October 22, 2019

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

 

What’s better than a half day or preschool?

A full day.

That’s the result of a study from the University of Colorado Boulder.

A university news story explains:

“The results show that doubling the time that kids spend in prekindergarten classes could have big benefits for their learning. The research team, led by CU Boulder’s Allison Atteberry, found that the extra school hours improved how children performed in assessments of vocabulary, literacy, math and more.

“It’s not clear whether the positive effects will be sustained as the students continue their education—the researchers only looked at kids’ progress over their pre-K year.

“But the study, published in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that experiences early on in life may have huge implications for a child’s academic growth. That’s likely because of how quickly children’s brains evolve, Atteberry said.

“ ‘Even a month in the life of a young child may represent a huge period in their development,’ said Atteberry, an assistant professor in the CU Boulder School of Education. ‘At the same time, this is a period when families are making very different choices about childcare and have different resources to make those choices.’ ” (more…)

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New research on racial segregation in early education has revealed a troubling trend.

“Nationwide, early childhood education is more segregated than kindergarten and first grade, even while enrolling a similar number of students,” according to the an Urban Institute report, “Segregated from the Start Comparing Segregation in Early Childhood and K–12 Education.”

“Early childhood programs are twice as likely to be nearly 100 percent black or Hispanic, and they are less likely to be somewhat integrated (with a 10 to 20 percent black or Hispanic enrollment share).”

Among the reasons this segregation is harmful:

“Research shows that the early years are the best time for children to learn tolerance and respect for kids from other races, cultures and backgrounds,” the Hechinger Report explains.

Halley Potter, a senior researcher at The Century Foundation, tells Education Dive, “Studies show that children learn more, in academic and social measures, when they have the chance to interact with peers who have different backgrounds and experiences. And these peer effects may be especially strong for young children in early education settings, for whom much of the day is spent in play and exploration alongside their peers.” (more…)

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“America, It’s Time to Talk About Child Care.”

That’s the title of a new report that declares what a lot of parents already know: America has a child care problem.

“…the federal government does not treat early childhood education as a public good nor does it provide adequate funding to support it,” the report says. “This chronic underfunding has led to a shortage of affordable, quality child care across the nation. And to the extent that child care is affordable for families, it is largely because early educators earn very low wages, and many must struggle to feed their own families.”

Eight organizations released the report jointly. They are: the Center for American Progress, the American Federation of Teachers, the Center for Law and Social Policy, Community Change, Every Child Matters, MomsRising, the National Women’s Law Center, and the Service Employees International Union.

This shortage of affordable, high-quality child care makes it tough for parents to go to work, which slows down the economy.

“Right now, the U.S. economy loses an astounding $57 billion per year in revenue, wages, and productivity as a result of child care problems,” the report warns. (more…)

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“It is too often that young children, families, and early childhood educators are being forced to grapple with the consequences of historic and systemic oppression. As issues of equity and social justice continue to remain at the forefront of American political and cultural discourse, high-quality early childhood education has emerged as a viable agent of change. The impact of racial disparities in educational opportunity, family separations as a reaction to immigration, and the disproportionate prevalence of poverty are a wake up call. Communities and systems must recognize the need to deeply consider identity development of young children, the norming of discussing and celebrating human difference, and the importance of working against bias and injustice in all of its forms throughout society.”

“Centering Equity: Local Progress and Innovation,” by Lindsey Allard Agnamba, New America, October 7, 2019, part of a new blog series on equity in early childhood education

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“Children with immigrant parents and those exposed to a language other than English in the home (known as Dual Language Learners, or DLLs) are important target populations for such early childhood programs. As of 2013–17, one-fourth of U.S. children ages 5 and under were children of immigrants, and nearly one-third were DLLs. Young children of immigrants are also more likely than their peers to live in low-income households—a priority service population for many home visiting initiatives.

“Yet studies show that DLLs and children in immigrant families are underserved by home visiting services.”

“Leveraging the Potential of Home Visiting Programs to Serve Immigrant and Dual Language Learner Families,” by Maki Park and Caitlin Katsiaficas, the Migration Policy Institute, August 2019

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