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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Wheeler DeAngelis. I am a Teaching Fellow at Lemberg Children’s Center at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. My first experience in the field was when I was a high school senior and volunteered for a child development class in a local elementary school, but I’ve been teaching professionally for two years.

I graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2015. I was a member of the Early Childhood Development and Education cohort – which I cannot speak highly enough about. UConn’s program focuses not only on the science of teaching (brain development, milestones, etc.) but also on the art of teaching (classroom management, parent interactions, and co-teaching). What really drew me to the program was the fact that it offers fieldwork and student teaching opportunities with infants and toddlers as well as preschoolers.

I think everyone who teaches young children has, at some point, been at a party where someone asked the same perplexing, astigmatic, exasperating question, “What can you teach babies?” The obvious answer is “EVERYTHING!” but as that rarely seems to satisfy people’s curiosity, I’ve come to rely on an analogy. (more…)

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A Lectio Institute. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

We’re excited to share news from our former Strategies for Children colleague Kelly Kulsrud.

As we blogged last year, Kelly left Strategies to become a co-founder and executive director of Lectio, an organization that maximizes the impact of literacy programs for children by helping stakeholders design more effective literacy programs. Now, Lectio is planning to celebrate its work and call for more progress.

Since last year, Lectio has been tackling a key problem. As its website explains:

“Despite great promise and tireless efforts, most children’s literacy programs, instruction, and services produce only negligible effects.”

The solution: Lectio runs institutes to help literacy programs assess their impact.

“We guide stakeholders through a comprehensive analysis of their literacy programs and services, focusing on their goals, design, desired outcomes, and resource allocation.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Earlier this week, we blogged about the shortage of early education and care workers in Massachusetts.

Today, we’re looking at similar shortages around the country.

Take Wisconsin where, “Low hourly wages, the lack of professional development opportunities and a high turnover rate are major factors contributing to the state’s preschool teacher shortage, experts say,” according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

“‘If you know that 52 percent of the childcare workforce in Wisconsin has at least an associate degree and that the average wage is $10 an hour, it’s not surprising that we’d have a teacher shortage,’ said Ruth Schmidt, executive director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, last week.”

Wages have been shockingly stagnant, according to a Wisconsin Early Childhood Association report. In 1997, child care workers earned $7.03 per hour – equal to $10.22 in 2013 dollars. In the year 2013, child care workers were only earning a few cents more in real dollars, taking home $10.33 per hour.

In addition, Wisconsin’s turnover rate among early educators is 35 percent, “which is significantly higher than the state’s overall workforce turnover rate of 8 percent.”

Similar challenges exist across the country. (more…)

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This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

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My name is Kristen Allen, and I am a preschool teacher at the Goddard School in Bellingham. I have been in the field since 1985, when my work-study job at UMASS/Boston was in the campus child care center. At the time, I was studying geography, and I hoped to teach high school environmental science and spend my summers leading canoe trips. After that first exposure to toddlers, though, I was hooked!

I have worked in almost every aspect of the field — in classrooms; running my own licensed family child care program when my children were young; training women to operate their own licensed family child care businesses; managing a home-visiting program for young mothers; providing mentoring, coaching, and training to early childhood professionals at workshops and conferences nationwide; coordinating USDA child and adult care food programs; and working on early childhood policy issues. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Low salaries are driving early educators out of their jobs, eroding efforts to offer high-quality programs to young children.

This challenge was featured in a front page news story in Sunday’s Worcester Telegram and Gazette, which reports:

“Losing needed staff is never a good thing. But for early childhood education centers these days, it can be especially demoralizing, said Kim Davenport, who recalled the case of one aspiring teacher who recently passed up a full-time classroom job for a higher-paying gig – at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“‘We’re losing the talent we really need in these programs,’ said Ms. Davenport, managing director of a multiagency initiative underway in Worcester aimed at expanding the city’s preschool options.”

And while early educators are getting advanced degrees that help them become even better teachers, these degrees aren’t leading to salary increases. (more…)

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

 

The Early Childhood Educators Scholarship Program is getting a makeover. The program’s scholarships help early childhood and after-school educators earn college degrees – either an associate or a bachelor’s.

The scholarship launched 10 years ago. It was added to the Massachusetts state budget thanks to the efforts of legislative leaders and advocates, including Strategies for Children. At the time, data showed that only 30 percent of center-based early educators held a BA or higher degree.

The scholarship is greatly appreciated by teachers. As Jennie Antunes, an early educator and scholarship recipient from New Bedford, told us:

“Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.” (more…)

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Source: Representative Alice Peisch’s Twitter page

There’s promising news for early educators in the House’s budget proposal. The developing budget would give early educators a much-needed salary increase.

The Boston Globe reports: “‘We’re at a tipping point,’ said DeLeo, citing the many underpaid and unqualified workers who tend to the state’s youngest students. ‘It’s a workforce which, quite frankly, I believe is in crisis.’”

“There are about 90,000 early childhood teachers in the state, who earn a median annual salary of around $25,000 — just $700 above the federal poverty level for a family of four.”

In addition, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) “plans to file a bill to expand professional development for early educators to bolster a system he described as ‘in crisis,’” according to the State House News Service.

DeLeo points to a troubling paradox, WWLP reports. While more pre-school teachers are needed in classrooms, “fewer people are pursuing careers in education.” (more…)

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