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Archive for the ‘Pre-kindergarten’ Category

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

By guest blogger Titus DosRemedios, Strategies for Children’s Director of Research and Policy

“When will my local community expand preschool?”

This is a question asked by many parents, teachers, elected officials, and other community members. Demand is high, but where is the funding? After all, Massachusetts made a legislative commitment to universal pre-kindergarten back in 2008, 10 years ago.

Now a state grant program will help communities take a small step forward.

Strategies for Children has always advocated for new state funding to increase access to high-quality early education. As we have worked with local communities over the years, we have come to believe that communities that want preschool should first be ready for preschool. And part of that readiness means having a plan, collaborating locally, and advocating.

Thankfully, the state has just made resources available for the first part of that equation.

On January 17, The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) released preschool planning grants for fiscal year 2018. Any community looking to expand its early learning opportunities for young children should apply.  (more…)

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Photo: Alastair Pike, Office of Governor Charlie Baker. Source: Governor Baker’s Flickr page.

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, Governor Charlie Baker unveiled a $40.9 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2019. This would be a 2.6% increase over current spending levels.

In his State of the Commonwealth speech, Governor Baker highlighted recent investments in the early education and care workforce: “To help the next generation of students get off to a good start, we delivered, with your support, one of the largest increases in funding for early childhood education in over a decade in our 2018 budget. All in, we’ve increased state spending on early education rates, delivering a $45 million wage increase for teachers.”

The governor’s budget provides a $13.62 million increase for early education and care, primarily through EEC’s two access accounts: Supportive and TANF (3000-3060) and Income Eligible (3000-4060). The budget does not include a separate rate reserve for early educator salaries. Preschool planning grants were not funded. 

Visit the Strategies for Children’s website for budget details. The House of Representatives is currently working on its budget, due out in April. Contact your state representative to advocate for increased investments in high-quality early education.

For more information and advocacy opportunities, contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org, (617) 330-7387.

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Now that more and more people are talking about high-quality preschool programs, it’s important to make sure that they know what high-quality means.

One way to share that message is to educate journalists who write about preschool programs. If they understand more about preschool, they’ll do a better job of informing their audiences.

So, the next time you talk to a journalist, be sure to talk about what quality is — and what it isn’t — and be sure to share resources that illustrate your point.

One resource is a recent New York Times Magazine story about Kejo Kelly, an early educator in Springfield, Mass. As we’ve blogged, this story delves deeply into quality.

Another resource is “The Most Important Year: Pre-kindergarten and the Future of Our Children,” a book by Massachusetts-based writer Suzanne Bouffard.

Bouffard’s book is featured in another useful resource, an article on the Education Writers Association’s website called, “What Reporters Should Look for in Early Learning Settings: Lectures don’t work well for young children. Look instead for child-directed fun.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

“Why Are Our Most Important Teachers Paid the Least?” journalist Jeneen Interlandi asks in the title of a recent New York Times Magazine article.

The article tells the story of Kejo Kelly, an early educator in Springfield, Mass., who is devoted to her work despite earning a low salary, weathering personal tragedies, and covering for absent colleagues.

“The community Kelly taught in was low-income by all the standard metrics,” the article says. “Many of her students came from single-parent households — some from teenage mothers, at least one from foster care — and nearly all of them qualified for state-funded child care vouchers.”

Teachers at Kelly’s preschool program earn some $10 per hour, and staff turnover is high. The preschool can afford to “cover basics like food and art supplies but not enough to pay for on-site behavioral specialists or occupational therapists.” That’s why:

“Kelly kept her own fractured vigil — taking note of which students couldn’t control their emotions, or sit still for the life of them, or engage with others in a meaningful way — and giving those students whatever extra attention could be spared. She sometimes imagined the classroom as a bubble, inside which her students were temporarily spared from the hazards of everyday life. Her job, as she saw it, was to hold that bubble open for the ones who couldn’t always hold it open themselves.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Do you have exciting ideas about early education that need funding?

If so, consider sending them to the inaugural Zaentz Early Education Innovation Challenge.

Sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Zaentz challenge is “calling for individuals or teams to submit new ideas, fresh thinking, and strategic approaches that drive lasting change in early education.”

Projects that are accepted will receive up to $15,000 in implementation funding.

Why now? Because “there is tremendous interest and excitement along with expansion in access in many cities and towns across the nation.”

“We are seeking ideas and approaches that promote positive outcomes at multiple levels of the early education system, including the home, classroom, program and networks, and/or policy.” (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A guest blog by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children.

We’re keeping an eye on early education trends, and we think there are six important things to watch for in 2018.

• FY19 state budget advocacy

Will the Governor and the Legislature continue their support for the early childhood education workforce? We hope so. Massachusetts has made important progress.

• Dear Massachusetts Legislature: Please expand preschool.

Last year, the Senate Ways and Means committee included $15 million for expansion, but this allocation did not make it into the final budget.

We are continuing to advocate for a bill that would invest in expansion in a small but powerful way. “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) would award preschool expansion grants to high-needs communities that are ready to go with comprehensive implementation plans. (more…)

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JD Chesloff

We caught up with JD Chesloff, who just completed a 10-year term on the Board of Early Education and Care (EEC), and asked him about what he’s seen over the last decade.

As readers of this blog know, JD’s career includes working at Strategies for Children and in the State House. He was also chair of EEC’s Board, and he is currently the executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable.

What has he seen as an EEC board member?

“The organization has matured over the last 10 years. It started out as a fledgling idea of having all of the early childhood activity in one place.”

“It’s grown up over that time and now it’s a clearly equal member at the education table with K-12 and higher education.”

JD praises the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) and its focus on ensuring that children and families have access to high-quality programs. The department has also wrestled with serving all children, making universal access part of its vision in a 5-Year Strategic Plan.

What was the most personally satisfying part of JD’s time on the Board? (more…)

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