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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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“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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Source: Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care

 

“The Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) is excited to announce the launch of Massachusetts StrongStart, an integrated system for supporting early educators and programs in providing high quality early education and care for young children.”

“Massachusetts StrongStart resources will include:

• Professional Development Centers that will provide training, technical assistance, career advising and coaching.

• Early Childhood Support Organizations that will provide targeted training and coaching to programs on higher quality standards.

• An Online Professional Development System that offers training, an educator registry, and a credentialing process.

“StrongStart will also support educator core knowledge and competencies, and program improvement through an interim Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) and the next generation of QRIS: StrongStart to Program Quality.”

“As EEC rolls out Massachusetts StrongStart, we ask for your assistance in spreading the word. Please share this email with your programs, partners and peers, and encourage them to subscribe to EEC’s mailing list for future updates.”

The Department of Early Education and Care, April 25, 2019

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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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“ ‘I think we took for granted before what 4-year-olds were capable of doing,’ said Quitman Lower Elementary Principal Amanda Allen, listing some skills the youngest learners are impressing her with: advanced vocabularies, number recognition, self-motivation. ‘It’s really only on us, what we limit or enable them to do.’

“Quitman’s pre-K success should have wide-ranging implications for Mississippi, where early results of the state’s tiny program are promising. More than 70 percent of children who attend pre-K in the state leave ready for kindergarten, according to 2018 accountability data. That’s a huge feat: Statewide, only 36 percent of kindergarteners were deemed ready during the same time period.

“In addition, kindergarteners who took advantage of state-funded pre-K in Quitman ranked among the top five performers on an assessment of school readiness skills, state data released in November show.

“Despite the state’s kindergarten-readiness crisis, only 2,174 students — roughly 6 percent of Mississippi’s students — are enrolled in state-funded pre-K.”

“After years of neglect, Mississippi takes baby steps to boost school readiness,” by Bracey Harris, The Hechinger Report, April 3, 2019

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“ ‘I noticed the kids who did not understand English were just sitting off to the side, but the moment the assistant would come and speak their language, they blossomed, their eyes opened up,’ Ponce said.

“Ponce, now a coach for other Head Start teachers, is one of hundreds of preschool teachers and supervisors across California who are getting training this year on how to support children whose families speak a language other than English at home. These students account for 60 percent of children under 5 years old in the state and are often referred to as ‘dual-language learners’ because they are learning two languages as they grow — their home language and English.”

“ ‘These are very exciting times,’ said Patricia Lozano, executive director of Early Edge California, a nonprofit organization that advocates for young children and is helping the California Department of Education implement the grant. ‘We’ve come so far in recognizing the benefits of speaking more than one language. All kids benefit from learning two languages. Hopefully California will be a leader in implementing this everywhere.’ ”

 

“New training for California preschool teachers to help bilingual children prepare for kindergarten,” by Zaidee Stavely, EdSource, March 19, 2019

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“The country is finally having a serious conversation about how best to care for children during their first five years before they enter school. What is missing from that conversation, however, is an acknowledgement of the abysmal conditions of many of our child care facilities and a commitment to fixing the problem. Parents should be able to leave their children in child care with the understanding that they are in safe and healthy learning environments that support their development — and this is just not happening.

“Luckily for these families, some states are starting to recognize the link between quality of facilities and quality of care.”

 

“Child care is infrastructure. We should treat it that way,” an opinion piece by Linda K. Smith, Roll Call, March 25, 2019

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