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“Sen. Sal DiDomenico recently testified before the Joint Committee on Education in support of his bill, S.265, An Act ensuring high-quality pre-kindergarten education. This legislation would expand preschool, using grants from the state, beginning with high-needs communities that are ready with a state-approved expansion plan.

“ ‘Across Massachusetts, people are ready for more preschool,’ said DiDomenico in his testimony before the Committee. ‘I have heard from countless parents who want this learning opportunity for their children, but often can’t afford it or are on waiting lists. Local communities, led by community-based programs, school districts, and mayors, have solid plans for preschool expansion and are waiting for new public dollars to begin implementation. That is why I filed this legislation, and I am confident this bill is an important next step towards improving and expanding high quality early education for our kids.’ ”

 

“DiDomenico Urges Action on High Quality Pre-K,” by Record Staff, Chelsea Record, July 18, 2019

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Brenda Casselius, the former Commissioner of Education for Minnesota and the newly named Superintendent of Boston Public Schools (BPS), welcomed the crowd and emphasized the importance of focusing not only on four-year-olds enrolled in pre-K but also on the critical first 1,000 days of a young child’s life. Casselius earned enthusiastic applause when she emphasized the importance of providing early education that is hands-on and play-based.

 

“I also had the chance to learn more about the past, present, and future of early education in Boston by attending a session led by Jeri Robinson, a long-time advocate of early learning in Boston and a member of the Boston School Committee, and Rahn Dorsey, Boston’s first Chief of Education. This session was filled with out-of-state attendees interested in learning how to improve and expand their own pre-K programs. Robinson discussed Mayor Marty Walsh’s $15 million investment in his FY20 budget to help guarantee free pre-K for all Boston four-year-olds within five years. The money should allow for the creation of 750 pre-K seats in community-based organizations (CBOs) across the city.”

 

“… Boston continues to serve as a promising example of how to improve the quality of pre-K and the early elementary grades. Its efforts so far offer many lessons and takeaways for other school districts.”

 

“Boston Early Ed Conference Draws Participants From Across the Country,” By Aaron Loewenberg, New America blog post, July 1, 2019

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“The Brunswick Day Nursery School, and about 3,100 others like it established across the U.S. between 1943 and 1946, made up a public child care system that served between 500,000 and 600,000 kids, more than half of whom were preschoolers.

”If you have never heard of this program, you are not alone. The nation’s brief foray into public child care has been largely forgotten.

”For a three-year period, the U.S. government got into the child care business, albeit uncomfortably and incompletely. All it took to make it happen was a world war and a massive labor shortage.”

“Between 1940 and 1944, women’s labor force participation grew by half. By 1944, about 19 million women were working outside the home, and about 12 percent of them had kids under 10.

“Clearly, something needed to be done. That something ended up involving funds from the Lanham Act, officially known as the Defense Housing and Community Facilities and Services Act of 1940.”

 

“Maine Once Had Public Child Care. What Happened To It?” by Nora Flaherty, Maine Public Radio, June 27, 2019

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Congresswoman Lori Trahan; Pat Nelson, Executive Director of the Concord Children’s Center; Amy O’Leary, Early Education for All Campaign Director at Strategies for Children. Photo: Eric Stein

 

“I was honored to speak briefly at the Kathy Reticker Forum’s screening of No Small MatterThe film addressed the question ‘Why, when the importance of quality early care is so widely accepted and known, do we continue to fail so many children?’

“It is an important question to ask. Our children are America’s most valuable resource, yet across our country, too many families don’t have access to high-quality, affordable early learning and care that will help them thrive without breaking the bank. Programs like Head Start and grants like Child Care and Development Block Grants (CCDBG) are investments that bring real and positive results to our communities. That’s why I fight hard in Congress to support and grown them. These programs have a proven track record of success in Massachusetts and around the country, and are exactly the type of investments our federal government should be making when it comes to the children and families that are most in need.

“I’m also proud to be working on a number of other pieces of legislation like the Universal Child Care and Early Learning Act, which dramatically expands access to quality, affordable child care for all families. Congress can and must make progress on this important issue. There’s work to be done.”

 

– U.S. Representative Lori Trahan (D-MA 3rd District)

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“ ‘A child is only 4 once, so each year that passes without families having the ability to put those children in pre-K is a huge lost opportunity,’ said Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Indiana, a leading early learning advocate.

“Indiana has taken some small steps to help its neediest families access pre-K, with lawmakers voting this year to open up the state’s $22 million fledgling pre-K program statewide.

“But even with that change, Indiana has barely made a dent in improving early childhood access, advocates say: The income-based voucher program reaches just under 3,000 of what advocates estimate to be 27,000 4-year-olds from low-income families, with a rocky rollout that has left about 1,000 available spots unfilled.

“ ‘We’ve come a long way, but we should make no mistake that we still have a very long way to go,’ Murtlow said.”

“This year, the state program, known as On My Way Pre-K, has grown to serve nearly 3,000 children. But with $22 million in funding, it has room for many more. State officials have run into obstacles trying to expand the program’s reach in rural areas. They’re struggling to keep the application process simple and raise awareness of the opportunity among parents.”

“Most 4-year-olds are left out of Indiana’s preschool expansion,” by Stephanie Wang, Chalkbeat Indiana, June 12, 2019

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“This lack of affordable quality child care is a crisis for American families. In 35 states, families pay more for child care than for mortgages, and in no state does the average cost of infant or toddler care meet the federal definition of affordable. On a per-capita basis, we spend roughly six times less on education for infants and toddlers than we do on K-12. This shortchanges our children exactly when the potential benefit is greatest.

“We know from breakthroughs in neuroscience that children’s brains are growing explosively during the first three years of life — developing more than one million neural connections a second. A child’s early brain architecture shapes all future learning and behavior. This is also the period in our lives when we are most vulnerable to trauma.”

“If we care about equal opportunity in this country, we must provide more funding for infants and toddlers.”

“So where do we start?

Six months of paid parental leave is the first step… The second step is improving compensation for early-childhood educators so that they earn the same as schoolteachers…”

“How to End the Child-Care Crisis: A child’s first 1,000 days are a time to be seized,” by By Shael Polakow-Suransky, president of the Bank Street College of Education, The New York Times, May 24, 2019

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Photo source: University of Massachusetts Boston News

 

On May 18, 2019, The Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation (Leadership Institute) at UMass Boston hosted the sixth annual Leadership Forum on Early Education Research, Policy, and Practice.

The day-long forum featured presentations by early educators graduating from the Leadership Institute.

Here are some of the things they said about the lessons they have learned.


Early educators enrolled in “Leadership in Early Care and Education: Lessons Learned”

Anne Boursiquot:

“I have learned how important it is to be an advocate in our communities for children and families. It is important that early educators get involved in civic engagement and communicate to politicians about policy and improving and upgrading the standards of ECE. It takes many levels of participants to reach all the goals that we have in our own communities and on a larger scale.”

 

Joelle Houlder:

“There are many ways to get to the same place. It is important to accept people for who they are, where they are, and also grasp the mindset that in order to lead, you must also follow.”

 

Shenchieh Li:

“In order to find a position that will fit my personal values in an early education, it is important for me to organize my strengths to serve my work well. If we focus on being inclusive of positive opinions and strategies, we will be on a path of creating meaningful change.” (more…)

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