Opinion: Doing Early Childhood Education Right

Determining what exactly constitutes high-quality early education remains a hotly debated topic. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Determining what exactly constitutes high-quality early education remains a hotly debated topic. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

By Dr. Donna Housman

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo has identified expansion of early education as one of his top three priorities for the current legislative session, and recently called on the state to “provide early access to high quality programming for our youngest children.”

On the face of it, the speaker’s call to action should generate little opposition, except perhaps over the question of how he intends to fund this expansion. But there is in fact a growing backlash against early childhood education, with critics arguing that there is scarce evidence supporting pre-K; that the benefits of pre-K dissipate quickly or that early childhood education’s benefits redound mainly to lower-income students.

Further, the speaker’s remarks beg the very important question of what constitutes “high quality” early childhood education. Read More →

5 Questions With Put MA Kids First Coalition Leader Marie St. Fleur

Marie St. Fleur, president and CEO, Bessie Tartt Wilson Foundation and leader of the Put MA Kids First Coalition. (Courtesty of Marie St. Fleur)

Marie St. Fleur, president and CEO, Bessie Tartt Wilson Foundation and leader of the Put MA Kids First Coalition. (Courtesty of Marie St. Fleur)

A new coalition with an eye on early education and care policy says “a renewed commitment is needed.”

Last month, a group of more than two dozen early childhood education organizations and out-of-school programs formed Put MA Kids First, a coalition to push for policy changes that will deliver more publicly-funded early education to Massachusetts children.

Roughly 30 percent of Massachusetts’ roughly 225,000 preschool-aged children (3-5 years old) are not enrolled in any formal education program.

One quarter of preschool-aged children in Massachusetts have publicly financed early education and care and about 43 percent attend programs their families pay for completely out-of-pocket, recent data shows.

While low-income families may receive state subsidies to pay for early education and care, just under 15,000 children are on waiting lists for that aid, according to the Department of Early Education and Care.

Last month, state senator Sonia Chang-Diaz filed a bill that, if passed, could provide state-funded full-day preschool programs for all Massachusetts three- and four-year olds. Read More →

Week Ahead: Scheduled Events In Education

Our weekly roundup of top education events in the state:

On Wednesday, February 25 8:30 a.m. Think:Kids at MGH hosts “Think:Kids Winter Tier 2 Training” at Microsoft NERD Center, Horace Mann Room 1 Memorial Drive Cambridge. This winter Think:Kids and the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are … Read More →

School Committee Roundup: Warwick, Belmont, Lexington, Amherst, Wareham

Here’s what’s happening right now in school districts across the state:

Warwick: Contract For District Study

The Warwick School Committee has selected Symmes Maini & McKee Associates as the consulting firm to conduct a district-wide study and recommend a long-term master educational and facilities plane, Warwick Beacon reports.

The Warwick School Committee has selected Symmes Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA) as the outside consulting firm to study the district and recommend a long-term master educational and facilities plan, awarding the firm a $238,243 contract at its meeting Tuesday. The decision was not unanimous, as the contract was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Bethany Furtado and Terri Medeiros dissenting. Read More →

Report: Black Girls Face Disproportionate Punishment In Boston Schools

Black girls face much harsher discipline than their peers, a new report says. (David Goldman/AP)

Black girls face much harsher discipline than their peers, a new report says. (David Goldman/AP)

BOSTON — Black girls in Boston’s schools face much harsher school discipline than their white peers but are often overlooked in school reform efforts, a new report says.

The report, by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School’s Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), found that the number of disciplinary cases involving black girls were 11 times more than cases involving their white counterparts, despite there being less than three times as many black students in Boston schools.

“When it comes to school discipline, black girls face a greater risk of racial discrimination and disparity than any other group,” said Kimberly Williams Crenshaw, the executive director of CISPS and professor of Law at Columbia University and UCLA. Crenshaw is the lead author on the report. Read More →

Guest Column: ‘Keep A Clear Head About The School Deficit’

0205_Liam-Kerr

At Wednesday night’s Boston School Committee meeting, Interim Superintendent John McDonough proposed to close a handful of Boston schools, citing a deficit of $42 million to $52 million in the Boston Public Schools budget.

Liam Kerr is the Executive Director of the political advocacy group Democrats for Education Reform. He says when people wonder “where did the money go?” they should keep a few things in mind.

 
Silly season is about to start here in Boston when it comes to public school finances.

The annual municipal budget process puts our investment priorities under an annual review, providing an ideal opportunity for special interests and aggrieved parties to make noise. This noise is loudest on the Boston Public Schools budget, and for good reason. Education counts for more than a third of the city budget, not to mention thousands of hopes, dreams, values, and paychecks. Read More →