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“The individual and collective progress of the 20 Early Learning Challenge States is changing the early childhood landscape for the better… It is exciting to watch these states make meaningful improvements as they tackle common and state-specific challenges and share lessons learned.”

Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary for early childhood development at the Administration for Children and Families, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, in “Early childhood education gets push from $1 billion federal investment,” The Washington Post, August 1, 2016

Photo: Carrie Giddings. Source: The Hechinger Report

Photo: Carrie Giddings. Source: The Hechinger Report

A bracing article describes that the United States has become “one of the worst countries in the developed world for children under five.”

Published by the Hechinger Report, the article’s headline declares, “What do we invest in the country’s youngest? Little to nothing.”

Hechinger sounds the refrain of “little to nothing” again and again, pointing out that the country could do better.

In fact, the United States has “provided universal public preschool before, for a few years during World War II. That program ended in 1946.”

And in 1971, “a bipartisan bill that would have created universal daycare” was vetoed by President Richard Nixon.

This has hurt the country. Continue Reading »

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

There isn’t a lot of new state funding for early education and care for fiscal year 2017, but Massachusetts is holding steady, keeping existing funds flowing to provide high-quality learning experiences for young children.

Last week, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced “$42 million in grant awards” for a number of initiatives to “support the quality and availability of early education and care programs” across the Commonwealth.

“High-quality early education and care programs provide children with a strong foundation for learning, academic success, and positive outcomes overall,” Baker said in a press release.

“We thank our early education providers and agency partners who work hard every day to provide our youngest learners with the tools they need to succeed in school and life,” Polito added. Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

To build a better workforce, start at the beginning by building better early education and care programs.

That’s the argument made by Jay Gonzalez and JD Chesloff in a guest column they wrote for the MetroWest Daily News.

“The business community has engaged in different initiatives over time to support the work of universities, community colleges, workforce training programs, vocational technical schools and K-12 public schools to improve the quality and supply of our workforce,” they write. “However, there has not been sufficient focus on the point in the workforce development pipeline that can have the biggest impact – the very beginning.

“That is starting to change.” Continue Reading »

This is one of a series of blogs featuring first-person accounts from early educators across Massachusetts.

*     *     *

JennieMy name is Jennie Antunes, and I have worked in the early education field for 30 years. This past October marked my 29th year with NorthStar Learning Centers in New Bedford, Mass. I am presently a lead teacher in one of our toddler/preschool classrooms. I also have the responsibility of acting as designated administrator when the center director is out of the building.

Through the help of a scholarship program, I earned my bachelor’s degree in 2014. Even though I had been doing this work for so long, there was so much more I wanted to learn to strengthen my teaching. I take great pride in my accomplishments, proving to myself that I could work full time as well as attend school full time.

However, early educators’ pay continues to be a challenge. The goal to have teachers become better educated to better serve children and their families is fantastic and important. Guiding the development and learning of young minds is incredibly difficult and highly skilled work.  Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Every year, thousands of young children enter foster care just as they’re getting old enough to enter school — and they face challenges in achieving success.

“On any given day upwards of 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system are living in the care of someone other than their biological parents,” the American Institutes for Research says on its Education Policy Center InformED Blog.

The post is the first in a series “examining educational challenges facing youth in foster care—early childhood into college—and some promising solutions.”

Children in foster care creates considerable instability.

“One-third of these children enter the foster care system before age five, just as they should be making the transition from preschool to kindergarten. Seventy-five percent must change schools when they enter the foster care system, and during their first year in foster care, they experience an average of three different home placements—often changing schools again and again.” Continue Reading »

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Washington, D.C, is the “pre-K capital,” “where nearly all 4-year-olds (and most 3-year-olds!) go to school,” according to the online news site LA School Report.

Why does a California-based publication care about Washington, D.C? Because Los Angeles is about to make its own investment in early education.

What makes D.C. a pre-K capital?

“Spurred by a landmark 2008 law, the District enrolls 85 percent or more of its four-year-olds (depending on who’s counting) and an even more remarkable 60-plus percent of three-year-olds.”

So on a Wednesday morning at “the Lincoln Park campus of AppleTree Early Learning, a network of pre-K charter schools,” young students are “nearing the end of a three-week unit on paleontology and archeology.” Continue Reading »

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