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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

On Friday, July 7, 2017, the Massachusetts Legislature passed the state’s fiscal year 2018 budget. The budget calls for $40.2 billion in spending, according to MassLive.com. That’s an increase of $1 billion over last year.

 

Funding highlights for early education and care include:

 

• $15 million for a workforce rate reserve

 

• $200,000 for preschool planning grants, and

 

• $1 million for Reach Out and Read

 

Total FY’18 funding for early education will be higher than FY’17 levels, but still several million dollars lower than the budgets that the House and Senate approved just a few months ago. 

 

The next step in the budget process: The FY’18 budget awaits Governor Charlie Baker’s signature. 

 

Please contact Governor Baker and urge him to sign the budget into law, preserving investments in high-quality early education. 

 

Show your support for the early education workforce: email the Governor now or call his office at: 617.725.4005.

 

For more information visit the Strategies for Children state budget webpage, or contact Titus DosRemedios at tdosremedios@strategiesforchildren.org.

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Our own Titus DosRemedios, Strategies for Children’s director of research and policy, was interviewed by the Toronto-based Preschool Podcast. Here are some excerpts of what Titus said:

 

“We have started to look at data on our early education and care workforce, and it’s kind of shocking how low the salaries are, how high the turnover is — the average salary is about $25,000 in the field for an early education and care teacher, turnover rate is about 30 percent. So we’re paying these borderline poverty wages for teachers that we’re expecting will be able to close the achievement gap and help children get ready to succeed in school. So there’s a mismatch between what our vision and hope is for the system and the level of investment there is in the teachers…”

 

“Access we thought was pretty good. And we actually spent many years pushing on quality because we thought that was the missing piece… But in recent years, we’ve started to uncover that in many parts of the state access is actually not that great. We have what we call Gateway Cities in Massachusetts… And what you find is that many children, high percentages of children in these small urban cities are coming to kindergarten without having any form or preschool whatsoever…”

 

“The secret to third-grade reading scores is not to get a new curriculum in third grade. It’s to work from birth all the way through age 8 or 9 and think about that entire continuum: working with families, infant-toddler programs, preschool programs, home-visiting programs, and, of course, the early elementary grades…”

 

“Data-driven early childhood education advocacy,” The Preschool Podcast, June 27, 2017

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Screenshot from the Annie E. Casey Foundation website

KIDS COUNT, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has released its annual Data Book. It’s a comprehensive look at children’s lives that’s meant to urge “policymakers not to back away from targeted investments that help U.S. children become healthier, more likely to complete high school and better positioned to contribute to the nation’s economy as adults.”

The Data Book has a mix of good and bad news: progress in some areas and lapses in others.

“The U.S. continues to have one of the highest child poverty rates among all developed countries,” Laura Speer, associate director of policy reform and advocacy for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said in a press release. “This unfairly burdens our young people and the nation, costing an estimated $500 billion a year in reduced economic opportunities and increased health and criminal justice-related costs.” (more…)

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Tom Weber, Commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care

Last week, the Massachusetts Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (MAECTE) held its Early Childhood Policy Summit.

The title of MAECTE’s summit: “Preparing the Early Childhood Workforce and Supporting Quality Programs: Structural Changes Needed in Funding and Higher Ed to Meet the Challenge.”

As MAECTE’s website says, the organization is “a professional voice of Early Childhood Educator preparation,” and it “provides vision, leadership, resources, policy initiatives, and professional development opportunities to support Early Childhood teacher educators.”

Summit participants included providers, advocates, and state officials including Tom Weber, commissioner of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), and Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education.

“When our teachers do not make a livable wage, we do not make ourselves appealing in a competitive market,” Weber said.  (more…)

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A guest post by Chris Martes, President and CEO of Strategies for Children

Jason Sachs and Chris Martes testifying at the State House

Tuesday was a sunny June day, so you may have missed the State House hearing on a range of early education and care bills.

Amy O’Leary and I — along with our colleagues from cities and towns and other organizations — testified in support of “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).

We shared our goals with the Joint Committee on Education, chaired by Representative Peisch and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain).

Budgetwise, it’s a tough time to ask for more funding. Massachusetts’ revenue forecast can best be described as partly sunny with a chance of car-denting hail. Look for “modest growth” of 3.9 percent.

Fortunately, our bill is an ideal fit for these economic times. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Today, the Massachusetts Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education will hold a hearing for early education and care bills filed in the 2017-2018 session. Strategies for Children (SFC) urges the committee to report favorably on An Act Ensuring High-Quality Early Education H.2874 and S.240, lead sponsors: Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett).

 

The problem:

Massachusetts has a significant and persistent achievement gap that’s evident long before children enter school. Too many children show up for school already behind, and too many of them will never catch up. It’s time to level the playing field for Massachusetts children. The state could and should do more to invest in young children’s early learning.

Experts agree that high-quality preschool has a short- and long-term impact on young children’s educational, social and health outcomes. Preventing problems now, rather than remediating them later, is a cost-effective investment that benefits children and taxpayers alike.

High-quality preschool helps establish a strong foundation for children’s learning in K-12, but currently an estimated 40% of the commonwealth’s 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in any formal preschool program. (more…)

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What do we know about preschool?

To find answers, researchers in different disciplines from a number of universities and from the think tank Brookings set up a task force to review the evidence “on the impact of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.”

The result is a new report, “The Current State of Scientific Knowledge on Pre-Kindergarten Effects,” released by Brookings and Duke University. Videos of related panel discussions are available here.

This effort produced “one, clear, strong message,” NPR reports. “Kids who attend public preschool programs are better prepared for kindergarten than kids who don’t.”

“This timely report can guide states and local communities, including several here in Massachusetts, as they continue to expand access to high-quality preschool,” Titus DosRemedios, director of research and policy at Strategies for Children, says.

Included in the report is a six-part consensus statement that says: (more…)

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