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Archive for the ‘Strategies for Children’ Category

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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Award winners.

 

Parents are a powerful part of education. They help their own children. They volunteer and help other people’s children. And earlier this month, parents who are connected to the Head Start and Child Services programs at the Boston, anti-poverty agency ABCD, got a celebratory nod of recognition at a Parent Training & Recognition Breakfast.

The event’s keynote speaker was Amy O’Leary, director of the Early Education for All campaign here at Strategies for Children.

“Parents can change the world,” Amy says, “and that’s why engaging them in their children’s education is so important.”

“Research has shown that when parents are engaged in their children’s lives and education it benefits both parent and child now and in the long term,” according to an excerpt from ABCD’s parent handbook. “Based on this rich body of research, we know that we need an ongoing commitment from parents and families in each of our centers.”

In her keynote speech, Amy encouraged parents to make their voices heard.

Her message: “WE Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For.” Parents can become leaders in early education and care. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Cities like Somerville work hard to boost children’s outcomes by making sure that preschool educators communicate with elementary school teachers.

Now a new research study points to some of the benefits of this approach.

The study – “Who benefits? Head start directors’ views of coordination with elementary schools to support the transition to kindergarten” – analyzes interviews of 16 Head Start directors.

The study found “numerous ways in which Head Start directors coordinate with elementary schools to share information about individual children and program practices,” according to the abstract.

This analysis “revealed that coordination may benefit children indirectly through both improved teaching practices, increased alignment and parent supports. Findings indicate the need for additional research to explore indirect links between coordination and children’s success.” (more…)

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Boston Mayor Marty Walsh confers with a future 4-year-old. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

 

Earlier this month, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh promised to invest $15 million in expanding the city’s preschool programs.

This week, a Boston Globe editorial – “Boston’s path to universal preschool offers lessons for other cities” — weighs in, pointing to Boston’s pre-K strengths.

Among the strategies that other cities could borrow from Boston:

• expanding preschool through a mixed delivery system, “a combination of public school classrooms and community-based centers with funding from the city, state, federal government, and even foundations,” as well as

• increasing starting teacher salaries from $35,000 to $53,000 to lower teachers’ attrition rates

Statewide, the need for more preschool spots is considerable, the Globe says, citing some of our data:

“Only about a quarter of preschool age children in Massachusetts have publicly financed early education and care, according to advocacy group Strategies for Children.”

Boston’s investment is particularly important now because federal Preschool Expansion Grants are ending, and at the state level, the House Ways and Means Committee’s proposed budget does not include funding for Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative — although a budget amendment would include $15 million for the partnership.

Please read the editorial to learn more — and be sure to add your comments!

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

Strategies for Children has just published a new policy brief, “Local Governance for Early Childhood: Lessons from Leading States.” It contains some of the new knowledge that we’ve learned from our work with communities.

What is local governance? Well, think of the K-12 system, which is organized around local school districts, with budgets, programming, and other decisions made by school committees and superintendents. In the birth-to-5 sector, there are no school committees or superintendents. What we have instead, in any given community, is a patchwork of independent programs and services.

Or as Vivian Terkel-Gat, our UMass Boston intern and the author of the policy brief, writes, “Local early education governance is essential for creating a coordinated, early care and education structure.” This helps communities take responsibility for creating shared goals and achieving better results for children. (more…)

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Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, the House Committee on Ways and Means released a $42.7 billion state budget for fiscal year 2020. In his letter to members, Chairman Aaron Michlewitz (D-Boston) highlighted investments in early education.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, Massachusetts has prioritized the field of early education and care, investing in both access and quality,” Michlewitz wrote. “This budget continues these historic investments, including another $20 million rate reserve for early educators, which will help to raise salaries allowing education providers to recruit and retain high quality staff. This funding ensures Massachusetts’s youngest residents will receive the best possible care from experienced teachers during their most formative years.” (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

Early education programs across Massachusetts have used federal Preschool Expansion Grants (PEG) to add more seats and serve more than 800 additional children annually. But now these programs – located in Boston, Holyoke, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield — face a tough question: What happens next year after their PEG grants run out?

Boston is taking proactive steps. Mayor Marty Walsh has announced a plan to invest $15 million over five years to ensure high-quality pre-K for all 4-year-olds in the city.

In other communities, PEG grants have had a great deal of local success. The grants have supported some of the highest quality preschool classrooms in the state.

These benefits were highlighted yesterday, at a meeting of the Board of the Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) where researchers from Abt Associates summarized the most recent PEG program evaluations. A video of the Board meeting is posted here. It starts at 34:32. (more…)

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