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Hilary Peak

Hilary Peak

Hilary Peak graduated from Wilson College with a degree in environmental studies. But her original major was equestrian studies.

Peak loved horses.

Horses, however, didn’t seem like enough to build a career on, and after Peak graduated, jobs related to her environmental studies major were hard to come by, so, following a stint as a Five Guys manager, Peak decided to work with children.

Which led her back to horses.

Peak volunteered at therapeutic riding centers, including Shepard Meadows Equestrian Center in Bristol, Conn., where volunteers work with children and adults who have special needs, including autism, depression, and multiple sclerosis.

From there, Peak took a job with a private company as a play therapist. She traveled to different sites to work with children. And what she saw in this job were teachers who didn’t have enough knowledge about children with special needs. It was a gap that Peak believed she could fill. (more…)

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“Now is the time to have a very strong, successful launch and expansion of early childhood education,” Greg Canfield, Alabama’s Secretary of Commerce, says in “Starting at Zero,” a new video from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation.

The video includes current and former governors, a philanthropist, a businessman, and academics from Stanford University and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, home of the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative.

“For every 10 children in the U.S., six have access to some early education before kindergarten,” Harvard’s Nonie Lesaux says in the video. However, “Only two of those six are in a setting that we would consider high-quality.” 

Among the video’s other key points:

• education is economic development

• the inter-generational impact of early childhood education helps children and their parents move ahead

• the social and emotional skills that early childhood education fosters are especially important given that people often have less face-to-face contact, and

• new governors are in a unique position to become early education champions

Check out the video and share it on your social media networks.

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“Researchers led by Arthur Reynolds, Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, followed the 30-year progress of 989 children who attended the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program in inner-city Chicago as preschoolers. Their findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics.”

“CPC graduates who attended the program through second or third grade had even higher educational gains than their counterparts: associate’s degree or higher (18.5 percent vs. 12.5 percent), including a bachelor’s degree (14.3 percent vs. 8.2 percent) and master’s degree (5.9 percent vs. 2.3 percent).

“The authors wrote that, to their knowledge, their study is the first to follow participants past age 25, a time in life when many people attain advanced degrees. Their previous research has shown that CPC graduates have gone on to have higher incomes, lower rates of serious crime and incarceration and lower rates of depression, compared to those who participated in other early interventions.”

“Graduates of early childhood program show greater educational gains as adults,” The National Institutes of Health, January 29, 2018

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

What’s the cost of not having universal pre-K?

The Center for American Progress has an $83 billion answer.

“Based on research that quantifies long-term economic outcomes in states that have high-quality preschool, this analysis concludes the United States would expect to see a net benefit of more than $83.3 billion for each one-year cohort of 4-year-olds,” the center says in its article, “The Cost of Inaction on Universal Preschool.”

“In other words, every year that policymakers delay a universal preschool investment, the United States loses billions of dollars that come from preschool’s economic benefits—such as less frequent grade retention and a reduced need for special education.”

That would be a huge savings for taxpayers.

Early education also has substantial economic benefits for children themselves: (more…)

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A guest post by Sally Fuller, Project Director of Reading Success by 4th Grade, part of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation

David Lawrence Jr. spoke with energy and insight at last month’s Business Champions for Children event. Held at Springfield’s Basketball Hall of Fame on July 10, 2017, the event’s goal was to increase the momentum of Massachusetts’ investments in young children.

Lawrence, the former publisher of the Miami Herald, is the chair of the Children’s Movement of Florida. And as a grandfather of eight children, it’s no surprise to hear him say in this video, “I simply became convinced… that the whole future of my community and my country depends on doing right, particularly in the early childhood years.”

Massachusetts is ripe for this kind of action. (more…)

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Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 11.51.09 AMThe Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) and the Rennie Center have just released a new infographic about how to promote educational success in the commonwealth.

“Every child, in every school and community in Massachusetts should receive a high-quality education. It’s the best path to college, career, and success in life,” according to the infographic, “A Roadmap to Expanding Opportunity: Evidence of What Works in Education.”

“The Roadmap project looks at promising, evidence-based strategies to better support all kids in our Commonwealth. This includes a recognition that learning must extend beyond traditional school structures.” (more…)

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School leaders are expanding their commitment to early education by promoting a new set of policy recommendations. It’s an enhanced allegiance between pre-K and K-12 that promises to yield important progress for children.

“While state chiefs do not have full authority over all early childhood programs, we are crucial leaders in any effort to strengthen early learning opportunities and outcomes,” according to a new policy statement from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) called, “Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education.”

CCSSO represents the “public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states.” (more…)

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Senator Stan Rosenberg. Photo source: Senator Rosenberg's Facebook page.

Senator Stan Rosenberg. Photo source: Senator Rosenberg’s Facebook page

Children will be getting new attention from the Massachusetts Senate. Last week, the Senate announced that it’s launching a new initiative called Kids First that will work to improve the lives of the commonwealth’s children.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) told Boston Herald Radio that Kids First will be an effort to boost children’s resiliency and help them “become productive adults.”

Rosenberg named a group of senators who will “look at everything from education and nutrition to public health, housing and workforce development for ways to help the state’s youngest residents,” according to an AP story that ran in the Washington Times. (more…)

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Congratulations to the city of Lawrence’s public schools and to their community partners. They were one of the winners at the Third Annual Gateway City Innovation Awards which is sponsored by the nonprofit thank tank MassINC.

Held in Worcester last month, the award ceremony acknowledged Gateway Cities for their innovative, collaborative approaches to long-standing community problems.

The win is particularly sweet for Lawrence because its schools have struggled. In 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced that the city’s schools fell into the Level 5 category, the state’s lowest one, because of chronic underperformance.

The district was put into receivership and Jeff Riley, a Boston educator, was brought in as the new superintendent and charged with implementing a turnaround plan. (more…)

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Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Photo: Michele McDonald for Strategies for Children

Holyoke is staging a comeback by building on its existing educational foundation to boost its children’s future success. The city has an ambitious plan for transforming its public school system that relies, in part, on high-quality early education.

Last March, Holyoke’s Mayor Alex Morse knew that his city’s school might go into state receivership. But he also knew Holyoke’s strengths. Writing in MassLive, he explained:

“That we face these problems is no reflection on our teachers and administrators who have worked so hard to improve our schools. On the contrary, the state’s report highlighted many areas where our schools have excelled despite poor systemic conditions. Our award-winning early literacy program has made a difference. Our graduation rate has increased. Our teen pregnancy rate has dropped precipitously. Superintendent Dr. Sergio Paez, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Hyry, and our school committee have laid a strong foundation for future success. Local partnerships have given our kids access to tutoring, after-school programs, and extracurricular activities.”

At the end of April, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education did indeed announce that Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) was a Level 5, “chronically underperforming” district. This designation put the schools into receivership. (more…)

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