Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Preschool expulsions are a troubling reality for too many young children, particularly African-American boys.

To learn more about the possible role of teachers’ bias in these expulsions, Yale University researchers recruited 135 study participants from “the exhibit hall at a large annual conference of early care and education professionals…”

The study looked at implicit bias, which “refers to the automatic and unconscious stereotypes that drive people to behave and make decisions in certain ways,” according to the study’s research brief.

Children’s behavior also matters, however, “implicit biases about sex and race may influence how those behaviors are perceived and how they are addressed, creating a vicious cycle over time exacerbating inequalities.”

Among the findings: “Preschool teachers and staff show signs of implicit bias in administering discipline, but the race of the teacher plays a big role in the outcome,” a Yale news release explainsContinue Reading »

“In 2013, the year before New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took office, there were about 20,000 free, full-day pre-K seats available to children. Three years later, the city’s preschool landscape looks vastly different. For the 2016-2017 school year, the city had free, full-day seats for more than 70,000 students.

“Now New York is trying to share what it has learned from this expansion with cities across the country.

“On Thursday, New York will host a daylong learning lab with leaders from 12 other cities, including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle. During the event, early learning leaders plan to discuss topics like family outreach and sustainable quality programming, and share insights and challenges from their own cities’ initiatives.

“The leaders hope to create a unified network dedicated to sharing best practices for pre-K implementation. The long-term goal of the event, Pre-K for All, is to promote access to free, high-quality preschool across the country.”

“These Cities Want The Country To Focus More On Access To Preschool,” by Rebecca Klein, the Huffington Post, October 6, 2016

Image: Screenshot

Image: Screenshot from Final Rule Fact Sheet

The Obama administration is making child care better and safer.

Thanks to a newly announced rule, some “370,000 child care settings across the country that participate in the federal child care program… will benefit from new health and safety requirements, staff training requirements, and criminal background checks for staff,” federal officials explain in a press release.

The new rules spring from bipartisan legislation that President Obama signed into law in 2014.

“Many parents rely on child care programs, and it is important that their children are cared for in safe learning environments with qualified providers,” according to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell. Continue Reading »

Average cost of child care across the states. Screenshot: New America's website

Average cost of child care across the states. Image: New America’s website

What’s the state of child care in today’s America, which is no longer the land of the “Leave it to Beaver” breadwinner-homemaker family?

To find out, the newly released Care Report and the accompanying Care Index look at all 50 states and the district of Columbia to assess three categories: cost, quality, and availability.

The bad news: “no single state does well in all three categories. Instead, families, providers, and policymakers in every state make difficult compromises that often shape family decisions and can determine the course of children’s futures.”

That’s a problem in today’s America where “in a majority of families with children under 18, all parents work for pay outside the home. That means, on any given day, about 12 million children under the age of five will need a safe place to go and someone loving to care for them.”

The report and the index were produced by the think tank New America and by Care.com, the website that links families to care providers, in conjunction with other organizations. Continue Reading »

“Pre-schoolers might be tiny, but they get suspended and expelled in big numbers.

“Now, a new study suggests that even for teachers who want to shift that dynamic, real change only happens with real training.

The study, from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education, looked at what happened in Nashville and Tampa when teachers there learned about a new preschool discipline approach called the Pyramid Model.

“They found that teachers who got 13 weeks of in-person and email feedback about their use of the new model changed their practices more — and reported better behavior among their students — than teachers who knew about the model but weren’t getting one-on-one support.”

“Want to reduce suspensions and expulsions in pre-K? Find a coach,” by Grace Tatter, Chalkbeat Tennessee, September 28, 2016

Policy is changing for K-12 schools.

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children. Photo: Alyssa Haywoode

Here in Massachusetts, districts and schools are unpacking newly released MCAS and PARCC scores and deciphering what these scores mean for learning and accountability. At the same time, Massachusetts is developing a next-generation MCAS that will be administered in the spring.

On the federal level, the “No Child Left Behind” law was reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); and state officials are working on our plan for this new law.

All of this is activity is important, but K-12 can’t achieve the success we all want without integrating early learning.

Learning begins at birth; the research on this point is clear. Children need a strong early learning foundation and a range of supportive efforts that stretch through their first eight years, from birth to third grade.

Despite the proven power of early learning, there are very few government mandates to provide these early learning supports. This absence does, however, Continue Reading »

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education policies are all over the map — literally and figuratively. While some states are making big investments in very young children, others lag behind.

How are specific states doing? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a national advocacy organization, takes a look in its August 2016 State Policy Update. It’s a “mini-update” that “provides a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2016 legislative sessions as of July 2016.”

This year, “numerous states across the country made major policy changes and investments that advanced access to high-quality early learning programs,” The Ounce says, pointing to:

• Rhode Island, where “codified key elements of the state’s home visiting system” became law “through the passage of The Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act. The state’s Department of Health is required to work with other state agencies to identify vulnerable families and offer them the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based home visiting programs.”

• In Nebraska, tax credits abound. “The School Readiness Tax Credit Act will create two new state tax credits… for early childhood programs and individual early childhood professionals in 2017.” Continue Reading »

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