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Archive for the ‘K-12’ Category

“Compared with K through 12 students, preschoolers are suspended at nearly 3 times the frequency of older students,” Molly Kaplan, the host of the ACLU’s At Liberty podcast, explains in a recent episode called, “How To End the Preschool to Prison Pipeline.”

The episode focuses on the racial and social inequities that even very young children must face.

To explore the issue, Kaplan interviews Rosemarie Allen, a School of Education professor at the State University of Denver.

As Allen’s faculty webpage explains, “Her life’s work is centered on ensuring children have access to high quality early childhood programs that are developmentally and culturally appropriate… Her classes are focused on ensuring teachers are aware of how issues of equity, privilege, and power impact teaching practices.”

On the podcast, Allen describes the cascade of expulsions that young children can face.

“We’re finding that children as young as eight months old began to be suspended and expelled from their child care programs, usually for doing typical things that babies do, like crying or biting,” she says.

(more…)

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Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff

Vanessa Pashkoff spent time in high school and college working as a nanny. And she was always inspired by “the spark of children and wonder,” she says. But as a student in McMaster University, in Canada, where she’s from, she earned a degree in political science. 

“I was convinced I was going to be a social worker.” 

A friend, however, was going to teach in Korea, and that inspired Pashkoff to look into teaching abroad. She applied to a program, got accepted, took a crash course in teaching English as a second language and spent a year teaching a preschool class in Japan. 

“I lived in Kobe,” Pashkoff recalls, “and I loved it. It was amazing to help people learn and to see another environment and the cultural differences. It really was what I was looking for without knowing it.” 

“I created some incredible relationships with families, and I am still in touch with them to this day.” 

While she was in Japan, Pashkoff decided to apply to Brock University in Ontario, Canada, so she could earn a degree in education. 

“It was the kind of thing where everyone else seemed to know that I was going to end up being an educator or a teacher, and I just never wanted to admit it,” she says.  (more…)

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“The Baker-Polito Administration, along with CEDAC’s affiliate Children’s Investment Fund (CIF), has announced $7.5 million in Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund (EEOST) capital improvement grants. Lt. Governor Polito joined Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy at East Boston Social Centers to announce the thirty-six organizations that received grant awards to fund expenses for capital improvements related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

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“Our Administration is pleased to support childcare providers across the Commonwealth who have worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to care for children and support families returning to work. Since the start of this grant program, we’ve invested more than $39.2 million in capital funding at childcare programs that impact the learning experiences of more than 9,000 children in communities across Massachusetts.”

— Governor Charlie Baker (more…)

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“School districts across the United States are hiring additional teachers in anticipation of what will be one of the largest kindergarten classes ever as enrollment rebounds following the coronavirus pandemic.

“As they await the arrival next fall of students who sat out the current school year, educators are also bracing for many students to be less prepared than usual due to lower preschool attendance rates.

“ ‘The job of the kindergarten teacher just got a lot harder,’ said Steven Barnett, senior co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. He coauthored a report that found that the number of 4-year-olds participating in preschool fell from 71 percent before the pandemic to 54% during the pandemic, with poor children much less likely to attend in-person.”

“Schools across U.S. brace for post-pandemic surge of kindergartners in fall,” the Associated Press, June 13, 2021

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Photo: Naomi Shi from Pexels

 

As the country recovers from the pandemic and rebuilds education, policymakers should keep an eye on kindergarten – and take steps to shore up its power.

“Kindergarten is designed for young children, who learn best by doing,” an article in the Hechinger Report noted last year. “And while pre-literacy and math skills are covered, building block towers, playing make-believe and mastering the playground equipment are also key elements of this critical grade.”

“ ‘I don’t want to pit one grade against another,’ said Laura Bornfreund, the director of early and elementary education policy at New America, a progressive think tank. ‘But the foundational knowledge, the skills to be able to learn and do well in school later are so important. Kindergarten matters a lot.’ ”

This year, New America is sharing insights from the results of two studies that the organization conducted with “the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Department of Early Childhood before the pandemic, which found that kindergarten is a critical setting for supporting young children’s learning and development.” (more…)

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Screenshot: The White House Twitter account

 

Section 1.  Policy. Every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment. This promise, which was already out of reach for too many, has been further threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. School and higher education administrators, educators, faculty, child care providers, custodians and other staff, and families have gone above and beyond to support children’s and students’ learning and meet their needs during this crisis. Students and teachers alike have found new ways to teach and learn. Many child care providers continue to provide care and learning opportunities to children in homes and centers across the country. However, leadership and support from the Federal Government is needed.Two principles should guide the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis with respect to schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and higher education institutions. First, the health and safety of children, students, educators, families, and communities is paramount. Second, every student in the United States should have the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, during and beyond the pandemic.”

 

“Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr., January 21, 2021, Presidential Actions

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Stephen Zrike on Facebook Live

 

“Superintendents, principals, and city leaders have to think really differently about how we use our assets to serve kids in different ways.”

— Stephen Zrike, Superintendent of the Salem Public Schools

 

Last month, when the city of Salem, Mass., found out that it was in the “red” – meaning there had been more than 8 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents over two weeks – Salem announced that all the grades in all its schools would start the school year by openly virtually.

This action prioritized safety – and it created a crisis for working parents for whom school is also child care.

So Salem Public Schools (SPS) came up with a creative solution: work with local partner organizations to run “Hub Extensions in our school buildings for groups of 13 students. These Hub Extensions will be licensed by The Department of Early Education and Care and those enrolled would be eligible for vouchers,” SPS says on its website.

That way instead of going empty and unused, school buildings would provide child care space for families and students who have the greatest needs.

“These Hubs will support remote learning during school-day hours and provide after school enrichment activities during afterschool time. All SPS cleaning and safety protocols will be followed.”

The community partners include the Salem YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem, and Camp Fire North Shore, a local afterschool program. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

One of the most powerful ways to help children succeed is through evidence-based family engagement efforts.

The challenge is how to do this work well, which is why a newly released state resource — “Strengthening Partnerships: A Framework for Prenatal through Young Adulthood Family Engagement in Massachusetts – is so important.

As this framework explains:

“Family engagement is crucial for healthy growth of children and youth in all domains of health and development.”

To help children achieve this healthy growth, the framework points to five guidelines:

• “Each family is unique, and all families represent diverse structures.”

• “Acknowledging and accepting the need to engage all families is essential for successful engagement of diverse families and includes recognizing the strengths that come from their diverse backgrounds.”

• “Building a respectful, trusting, and reciprocal relationship is a shared responsibility of families, practitioners, organizations, and systems.”

• “Families are their child’s first and best advocate,” and

• “Family engagement must be equitable.” (more…)

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“Two divides thwart the best efforts of American educators to improve outcomes for low-income children and their families.

“The first is the gap between early-childhood and K-12 education. The second is between K-12 education and health and social services. Typically these institutions operate in silos. Yet decades of research confirm that to best learn and thrive, children need early-childhood and elementary education to be aligned so that each year builds upon the last, and they need health and social services to be coordinated to maximize their positive impact.

“Over the past decade, I’ve had the opportunity to research and work with communities that are attempting to bridge these divides.”

“Despite working independently, these communities have diagnosed similar challenges to improving supports for children and families. In response, they are converging on a common set of innovative structures and strategies.”

 

“Four Strategies for Getting the First 10 Years of a Child’s Life Right,” by David Jacobson, Education Week, February 4, 2020

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

Across the country, K-12 schools are spreading their wings by working in the early education space. It’s an approach that promises to help more young children succeed as they transition into elementary school.

One example in the suburbs of Omaha, Neb., is Belleaire Elementary School, where providing a good education includes working with families before children are old enough to go to school.

“Belleaire is one of 10 schools in the Omaha metropolitan area that are rethinking the scope of early childhood education,” an EdSurge article says. “Traditionally, early childhood education focuses on serving children before they reach kindergarten. But more recently, researchers have begun to think about early childhood education as encompassing the first eight years—years that are critical for neural development and where early interventions can have a profound impact in later years.”

This is all part of Omaha’s Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan, a $2.5 million per year initiative that’s funded by a tax measure. (more…)

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