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Archive for the ‘Philanthropy’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

 

A guest blog by Chris Martes, president and CEO of Strategies for Children.

We’re keeping an eye on early education trends, and we think there are six important things to watch for in 2018.

• FY19 state budget advocacy

Will the Governor and the Legislature continue their support for the early childhood education workforce? We hope so. Massachusetts has made important progress.

• Dear Massachusetts Legislature: Please expand preschool.

Last year, the Senate Ways and Means committee included $15 million for expansion, but this allocation did not make it into the final budget.

We are continuing to advocate for a bill that would invest in expansion in a small but powerful way. “An Act ensuring high quality early education,” H.2874 filed by Representative Alice Peisch (D-Wellesley) and S.240 filed by Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) would award preschool expansion grants to high-needs communities that are ready to go with comprehensive implementation plans. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

 

It’s #GivingTuesday, and we are reaching out to our loyal base of blog readers, advocates, and collaborators to ask for your support.

Why give?

Here are five reasons.

1. Information – EEA Update, our bi-monthly newsletter, captures the latest news and policy updates in early education and care. View our newsletter archive here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook too!

2. Advocacy – Who has time to keep track of all the early education bills, line items, amendments, vetoes, and advocacy opportunities? Well, we do actually.

3. Blog – Our Eye on Early Education blog is one-of-a-kind, and reporter Alyssa Haywoode covers all the topics you care about along the birth-to-grade-three continuum on the local, state, and federal levels.

4. Data – We’ve got you covered, with Fast Facts, community profiles, and all the statistics about the importance of ensuring high-quality early education for children in Massachusetts.

5. Elections – All the information candidates and voters need to know during election season and beyond.

Plus, we have a 16-year track record of policy wins for high-quality early education in Massachusetts.

Please make your tax-deductible donation today to support our work at Strategies for Children.

We are grateful for your support. Thank you.

Team SFC

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“It began when my husband Phil and I started looking for a preschool for our children. We visited programs, talked to preschool teachers, and tried to imagine our kids sitting at tiny tables, making friends, and climbing on outdoor play structures.

“We started to see how complex – and at times heartbreaking – the quest for finding a quality preschool can be. I asked our preschool director if she ever had to turn children away because their parents couldn’t afford to pay for it. Sure, she told me, every year for the last 28 years. I asked if there were children this year who couldn’t afford it. She said there were five.

“Of course I couldn’t sleep at night knowing this, so I wrote a check for those five children to go to preschool. Phil already knew the answer, but he still asked if I intended to keep doing this. Probably, I said.

“Phil suggested that we go big, and we created Taly Foundation.”

“Invest in young children now: Pre-K programs help parents and build workforce of future,” by Jill Dixon, CommonWealth Magazine, August 22, 2017

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

 

What would make the transition from pre-K to kindergarten easier?

Four states are trying to find out, according to a recent report from New America called, “Connecting the Steps: State Strategies to Ease the Transition from Pre-K to Kindergarten.”

The path from pre-K to kindergarten can be “fraught with stress and uncertainty for many children and their parents,” New America says in a policy paper. Kindergarten’s days are often longer, and the curriculum can focus more on academics.

“This transition is significant for parents as well. Contact with teachers is often more formalized and less frequent than in a pre-K classroom. There is often less emphasis on parent-teacher and parent-parent contact than before. This can leave parents feeling out of the loop… and can lead to less parental involvement in the classroom.”

While schools and districts have to ease the transition, “states can actively encourage intentional, local efforts to smooth transitions to kindergarten.”

To show what states can do, (more…)

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Screenshot: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Report

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is making the business case for high-quality early education.

“… America is facing an unprecedented workforce crisis: a large and growing shortage of skilled workers,” the foundation says in a newly released report – “Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare.”

“From Wall Street to Main Street, the world of work is changing—and our strategies for developing tomorrow’s workforce must change with it,” the report says.

Katharine B. Stevens, a senior fellow with the American Enterprise Institute who wrote the report, says in a statement, “Achievement gaps are emerging much earlier than we previously understood. The costs of children arriving in kindergarten not ready to learn are enormously high.” (more…)

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“With the ‘Hope Starts Here’ partnership, Kresge and Kellogg want to ensure every kid in Detroit has access to early childhood education from age three to five.

“La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of Kellogg, tells Detroit Today that three out of every eight children age five and under don’t have access to early childhood education in the city.

“‘What we believe is that it puts the child on the best course if they have many developmental opportunities from birth to kindergarten,’ says Montgomery Tabron.”

“Kresge and Kellogg Foundations Join Forces to Boost Early Childhood Education in Detroit,” WDET, June 7, 2017

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The clock is ticking and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading (CGLR) is busily working toward its goal to “increase by at least 100 percent the number of children from low-income families reading proficiently at the end of third grade” in a dozen or more states by the year 2020.

Back in 2012, CGLR, Strategies for Children, and five Massachusetts cities announced “the creation of a statewide network committed to aligning research, policy and practice to move the needle on third grade reading…”

Since then, CGLR has been active on multiple fronts. Here’s a roundup of some recent accomplishments. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Earlier this week, we blogged about the shortage of early education and care workers in Massachusetts.

Today, we’re looking at similar shortages around the country.

Take Wisconsin where, “Low hourly wages, the lack of professional development opportunities and a high turnover rate are major factors contributing to the state’s preschool teacher shortage, experts say,” according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

“‘If you know that 52 percent of the childcare workforce in Wisconsin has at least an associate degree and that the average wage is $10 an hour, it’s not surprising that we’d have a teacher shortage,’ said Ruth Schmidt, executive director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, last week.”

Wages have been shockingly stagnant, according to a Wisconsin Early Childhood Association report. In 1997, child care workers earned $7.03 per hour – equal to $10.22 in 2013 dollars. In the year 2013, child care workers were only earning a few cents more in real dollars, taking home $10.33 per hour.

In addition, Wisconsin’s turnover rate among early educators is 35 percent, “which is significantly higher than the state’s overall workforce turnover rate of 8 percent.”

Similar challenges exist across the country. (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Low salaries are driving early educators out of their jobs, eroding efforts to offer high-quality programs to young children.

This challenge was featured in a front page news story in Sunday’s Worcester Telegram and Gazette, which reports:

“Losing needed staff is never a good thing. But for early childhood education centers these days, it can be especially demoralizing, said Kim Davenport, who recalled the case of one aspiring teacher who recently passed up a full-time classroom job for a higher-paying gig – at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“‘We’re losing the talent we really need in these programs,’ said Ms. Davenport, managing director of a multiagency initiative underway in Worcester aimed at expanding the city’s preschool options.”

And while early educators are getting advanced degrees that help them become even better teachers, these degrees aren’t leading to salary increases. (more…)

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“What does it mean to be ready for kindergarten? To me it’s the basics of academics, getting ready for reading and math, but it’s also social, learning how to be around different kinds of people, and how to deal with conflict. Playing with other kids. Academics and social skills are equally important—that helps not just in school but in life. And those are the skills that our daughter learned in pre-K.”

“I’ve worked as a teacher’s aide before, helping out in the [pre-K] classroom, so I’ve seen what a teacher goes through and how important a good teacher is. It’s hard work. These are the people who are molding and shaping your kid—everything they do matters. Our teachers were awesome. They did trainings, so they were always getting better. They kept us involved and told us everything we wanted to know without having to be asked, and they met us at flexible times because most of the parents work. It felt like a community. Our teachers made every family feel special.”

“Ready for Kindergarten,” by Allegra Myers, posted on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Impatient Optimists website, August 19, 2016

 

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