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Image: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

Image: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

 

A new publication — the “Early Childhood Workforce Index 2016” — presents a familiar good news/bad news scenario about early educators.

The good news: “Early educators play a central role in the environments in which millions of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers develop and learn.” The country relies on educators’ “ knowledge and skills to provide high-quality early care and education to our increasingly diverse population of children and families.”

But here’s the bad news: “our system of preparing, supporting, and rewarding early educators in the United States remains largely ineffective, inefficient, and inequitable, posing multiple obstacles to teachers’ efforts to nurture children’s optimal development and learning, as well as risks to their own well-being.”

The index was just released by Marcy Whitebook and her colleagues at the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Continue Reading »

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 9.32.09 AMHow do children get to kindergarten? They might take a bus or walk with a parent.

But for policymakers the more pressing question is: How do children get from birth to kindergarten?

Have they been read to? Have they been hungry? Have they been homeless or learned to live with toothaches? Have their parents struggled with depression or addiction?

The answers are crucial and can affect whether or not a child is kindergarten-ready. The Annenberg Institute for School Reform tackles this challenge in the latest issue of VUE, its Voices in Urban Education magazine.

Part of Brown University, Annenberg is “a national policy-research and reform support organization that promotes quality education for all children, especially in urban communities.”

The guest editor for this issue is Michael Grady, the Annenberg Institute’s deputy director and an assistant professor of practice in the Urban Education Policy master’s program at Brown University.

Grady sets the stage in the lead article writing:

“With widespread support for the expansion of early education programs, there is an increased need for collaboration across systems to support the critical transition from pre-K to elementary school in order to ensure positive educational outcomes for all.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The Massachusetts FY17 state budget eliminates funding for full-day kindergarten grants, an important program that supports kindergarten quality and districts’ transition from half- to full-day programs. Now local officials are responding to the news.

“More than $18 million has been slashed from a state program to expand full-day kindergarten, which could put a new strain on school districts’ already cash-strapped coffers,” the Gloucester Times reports.

“If unchanged, the cuts essentially gut funding for a full-day kindergarten program, forcing communities that depend on the money to trim their own budgets or otherwise make up the costs.

“School administrators are lobbying to restore the funding.

“Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, said the cuts will hurt, especially because many school districts have been expecting that money to cover full-time kindergarten costs for the coming year.” Continue Reading »

“I came to believe that the topic of high-quality early care, development, and education spoke to the future of a country I love. My reading of history, and how social progress is achieved, gave me the philosophical understanding that doing right by our children is essential for our nation’s future. It requires building a ‘movement,’ one for everyone’s child. A real ‘movement’ can never be built just for ‘those children,’ whoever they may be; it must be about all our children.”

“The future of our country is being built on our work in early childhood development. We all must play a role in helping every child succeed. We are overdue, my friends. Nearly 120 years ago, The New York Times wrote an editorial with these words: ‘Given one generation of children properly born and wisely trained, and what a vast proportion of human ills would disappear from the face of the earth.’”

David Lawrence, Jr., retired publisher of The Miami Herald and chair of The Children’s Movement of Florida, in his gust blog, “Investing Early: The Best Sort of Nation-Building,” posted on the NAEYC website, July 1, 2016

Video Source: Tom Bedard’s Blog

 

A terrific article on the MenTeach website profiles preschool teacher Tom Bedard, a.k.a. “a sort of preschool MacGyver (that classic television character who made extraordinary things out of ordinary objects).”

“I go through the hardware stores and think, ‘Huh! What can I use this for?’” Bedard, a 65 year-old resident of St. Paul, Minn., says in the article. “I’m known for my sand and water tables. I build in and around the tables to make them unique spaces for the kids to play and learn.

One water table is “a wondrous contraption” that’s actually “two tables fashioned into one long one and stacked with accessories like swimming noodles and coffee filters.”

As he approached retirement, Bedard reflected on his career in early education.

“I thought I would get a science degree,” Bedard says. “But, my first semester, calculus and physics didn’t go so well. I started taking psychology classes instead and really liked them.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

The Legislature has approved a $39.1 billion budget for FY17, one that will have a mixed impact on high-quality early education. Governor Baker now has 10 days to review the budget and make potential vetoes before signing it into law.

MassLive.com reports that the budget addresses “an estimated $750 million drop in revenues compared to what lawmakers originally proposed. The budget represents growth of just 2.6 percent compared to the 2016 budget.”

There are no new taxes or fees.

“The bill makes $260 million in spending cuts. It directs the administration to cut another $100 million through ‘procurement efficiencies,’ essentially coming up with places to trim spending across executive branch departments.”

The Boston Globe adds that the budget “avoids dramatic cuts by relying on a series of financial maneuvers to close a big gap in expected tax revenue for the fiscal year that begins Friday.” Continue Reading »

“Like most of the country, Maine lacks a comprehensive early childhood education system, and we need to do something about it.”

“The first problem to tackle is access. Public preschool programs are available in just 64 percent of Maine school districts, and only about a third of 4-year-olds in Maine are enrolled. When private preschool is included, participation rises to 42 percent for 3- and 4-year-olds, but that’s behind the New England rate of 56 percent. For children from families who make less than 200 percent of the poverty level, or about $40,320 a year for a family of three, participation is even lower, and the prohibitive cost of private programs is a big factor.”

“Maine Voices: Prioritizing early childhood education would pay off for children, Maine,” by State Representative Teresa Pierce, The Portland Press Herald, June 20, 2016

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