First PMKF Boston Roundtable Great Success
Our first PMKF Community Roundtable facilitated by Community Organizer Nicole Perryman was held on Friday at the Mattahunt Community Center in Mattapan.
Panelists included Marie St. Fleur (Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children), Kymberly Byrd (Vital Village Network), Barbara Pierre (Mattahunt Community Center) and Laura Williams (Family Child Care).
Stay tuned for information on our next meeting!
Preschool teachers ask for salary raises despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto
“The average preschool teacher in Massachusetts earns just $25,500 a year. As a result, turnover in the field is high — around 30 percent each year.
“Every political leader talks about the need to have school readiness by kindergarten,” said William Eddy, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Early Education and Care, which represents early education programs. “If you can’t keep teachers, you’re not exactly helping the cause.”
Education advocates are asking lawmakers to override Gov. Charlie Baker’s veto of $7.5 million for salary increases for preschool teachers who serve low-income children. The request comes as lawmakers prepare to take up $256 million in line item vetoes that Baker made to the fiscal year 2017 state budget. Requests from early educators will compete with requests from nursing home workers and from artists.
In early education, Baker vetoed $7.5 million for the salary increases, $9 million from the general childcare budget and another $1.3 million from several line items, including a child literacy nonprofit and a family mentoring pilot program.
Administration officials say the $9 million is money that education officials believe they can cut through “caseload reductions” without impacting core services. Officials point out that the early educators will still get a salary increase, just not as large of a raise.
Baker on Friday signed a $38.92 billion budget into law for fiscal 2017. Local projects, tourism spending, and state employees paying for their health insurance will all feel the squeeze of his vetoes.
But advocates for the schools say the money is necessary. For the average teacher, Eddy said the salary increase would be around $850 a year, to $26,300. With the cut, the average teacher would get an annual raise of around $340.
“It’s not going to make a quality of life difference for our educators,” Eddy said.
Eddy said when teachers are not paid a reasonable wage, there is constant turnover, which hurts the quality of education. “The key for us is keeping and retaining qualified and credentialed staff,” Eddy said.
The students served by state and federally subsidized preschool come from low-income families, families transitioning off welfare and children in state custody due to abuse or neglect.
Advocates say it is not clear exactly what the impacts will be of the additional $9 million cut.
“Already, we can’t serve the children who qualify for assistance … and obviously cutting $9 million from the pot of money that’s not getting the job done now doesn’t make the job easier,” said Nathan Proctor, state director of Massachusetts Fair Share, a group that supports raising taxes to support additional investment in education.
Massachusetts Fair Share circulated an online petition, which has gotten more than 1,100 signatures, asking legislators to override Baker’s early education budget vetoes.
800 AND COUNTING CALL FOR REVERSAL OF EARLY EDUCATION CUTS
Written by Massachusetts Fair Share
CONTACT: Nathan Proctor, 203 522 3860
July 13, 2016
800 AND COUNTING CALL FOR REVERSAL OF EARLY EDUCATION CUTS
Public asks legislators to override Gov. Baker’s cuts to early education programs as the state finalizes the budget
BOSTON – Community members have expressed frustration in response to Governor Charlie Baker vetoing $17.5 million in funding to early education, including a much needed $7.5 million to the struggling workforce. A petition that has garnered over 800 supporters in just the last 2 days from across the state will be delivered to The Massachusetts State House and State Senate in an effort to push legislators to override Gov. Baker’s targeted line item cuts to early education funding.
Since 2001, early education and out-of-school-time programs have lost more than $148 million in state funding (adjusting for inflation). There were modest gains in the budget around early education funding, but those gains are in jeopardy.
“We know that early education helps more children start kindergarten ready, and that residents from across the state strongly support investing in early education and preschool. We should be expanding these programs, not cutting them,” said Massachusetts Fair Share State Director Nathan Proctor. “I’m especially troubled by the $7.5 million cut targeted at addressing early educator pay, as that investment is critical in stabilizing the field, which is in crisis.”
Among the comments on the petition:
“Cuts in this service are short sighted. Research has documented that early education and care is a vital investment in our children and the benefits outweigh costs.” – Susan from Belmont
“Early ed. is one of the most important funding areas for government. You will save money fighting crime and housing prisoners in the long term. Please override Baker’s line-item veto of this educational item.” – Alice from Arlington
“An educator from the Middle East I met once told me that we Americans have it all wrong. We value Ph.D’s and spend as little as possible on early childhood education. Yet it’s the age before 5 that is so critical to the development of a person. And children are the future of the country. Massachusetts needs to give the best foundation possible to its children and that means spending on early childhood education in ways that can make a real difference.” – Dee from Lowell
Current and former teachers have also spoken out regarding the multi-million-dollar cuts to funding:
“As an Early Childhood Educator who has worked in the State for over 16 years, I have seen less and less funding. I work in Lowell, where many of our children/families struggle financially and the teachers absorb many of the costs that our schools and families cannot fund. By taking more money away from ECE, you are depriving the children of assistance from a paraprofessional who is essential in our Kindergarten classrooms. We are not only educators, but parents, caregivers, and confidants.” – Tara from Lowell
“More money should be allowed for Early Childhood education. This is where we need to close the gap in education. As a kindergarten teacher I see more and more students coming into kindergarten with no prior early childhood experience. When they start kindergarten they are already behind many of their classmates. We need to offer more full day preschool and programs to those in early childhood!” – Heather from Worcester
“We can do better. Every child deserves the same strong start,” added Proctor.
Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children
Marie St. Fleur, President and CEO of Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children (BTWIC), has announced that she will retire from the post in November 2016, following three years leading the Initiative.
The BTWIC Board of Trustees has established a search committee to lead a timely recruitment process for St. Fleur’s successor. The Committee is comprised of sitting Trustees and is headed by the Chair of the Governance Committee, Debbie Smith.
BTWIC is well-positioned for this leadership transition. It is an emerging organization that has demonstrated capacity to successfully manage a transition beyond its Founder Mary Reed, who skillfully led the organization for over a decade. It enjoys a strong reputation for excellence in grassroots research and community engagement with a robust community partnership portfolio. Marie St. Fleur expects to remain actively engaged throughout the transition and BTWIC’s staff and Board are committed to a smooth search process and transition.
The search process has launched. The Board has retained Executive Service Corps (ESC) of New England to manage the process.
Among the Initiative’s significant milestones and accomplishments under Marie St. Fleur’s leadership:
Research Activities: To support increasing the quality of early education and care for all children, BTWIC launched the report Eating to Learn and facilitated expanded access to nutritious snacks and meals through the Child and Adult Food Program for over 900 children. To support the approximately 60% of children under 5 who are in unlicensed care, BTWIC’s research on Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care highlights the need to focus on this diverse population of caregivers and identify recommendations that can connect them to systems of developmentally-appropriate resources.
Technical Business Support for providers: BTWIC launched a small business innovation center providing contextualized technology and business training, allowing early education and care small business owners to develop and use a budget, create a business plan, and utilize a marketing strategy all while reducing the digital divide. The early education workforce in Massachusetts is 96% women – often women color and English language learners – and the median salary level is approximately $25K a year.
Advocacy for the Profession: BTWIC has grown and strengthened advocacy for greater investment in quality early education and care that is anchored in the workforce. It launched a multi-sectoral early education and out-of-school time coalition that has over 75 member organizations with outreach capacity to over 10K Massachusetts residents. This coalition, the Put MA Kids First coalition, has built a strong grassroots presence as well as an effective social media presence that has yielded consistent state increases in direct workforce support for two fiscal years, from $9M to $17M.
Financial Position: Like many small research-based nonprofits, BTWIC is on a consistent path to strengthen its donor base. Transitioning from a dedicated founder receiving a part-time salary to its first non-founding President and CEO, over the past three years BTWIC has consistently met is expenses. All of its account receivables are current. In Fiscal Year 2016 it raised over $650K and is starting FY2017 with $250K in pledged revenue.
Statehouse News Submitted by Massachusetts Fair Share
June 29, 2016
DESPITE BUDGET GAP, LEGISLATORS MAKE CRITICAL INVESTMENTS IN EARLY EDUCATION
Advocates called investment “real progress” and praised lawmakers for protecting early education funds despite budget gap
BOSTON – Massachusetts Fair Share, a statewide grassroots advocacy organization with thousands of members across the state, issued the following statement about news of the 2017 final budget. The budget, passed out of the conference committee today, included critical investments in early education: a $12.5 million investment (1599-0042) in increased compensation for early educators and a $2 million boost to a program (3000-1020) to help early education providers increase and maintain their level of quality.
“With this budget, state lawmakers have shown us that they understand just how important early education is. Even while facing a significant budget gap, we are making real progress.
“Massachusetts should lead on education, but when it comes to early education we have been lagging. For years, Massachusetts’ funding for early education and care has not kept pace with inflation, resulting in a reduction of more than $100 million. It’s a welcome sign to see that trend turn around.
“Studies establish the necessity of quality in order to see long-term positive impacts in early education, but declining budgets have undermined quality. We’re struggling to keep dedicated and highly skilled educators in the field, and face a 30% turnover rate. Stabilizing the workforce is the best way we can help more children get a strong start. The investment of $12.5 million in educators is evidence that our state’s leaders understand that.
“More work needs to be done to make sure every child in Massachusetts gets the same strong start. But today, we celebrate progress as leaders came together to support early education. If we want a system that works in Massachusetts, we need a system that regular working families can afford and that can pay enough to keep teachers in the classrooms in order to meet high standards for quality. These investments bring us closer.”
Statement attributable to Massachusetts Fair Share Director Nathan Proctor.
Well Done PMKF Coalition Members and Supporters!
The Put MA Kids First Coalition is proud to announce that the legislature approved the FY17 budget today which includes $12.5M for the rate reserve and $2M for direct grants to programs who are actively engaged in efforts to enhance quality by achieving level 3 and 4 in the QRIS. The Coalition’s letters, calls, and advocacy have made a difference, more than doubling the FY16 investment of $5M for the rate reserve and $1M for quality improvements!
THANK YOU to Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Dempsey, Chairwoman Peisch, and all the members of the Conference Committee for championing quality in early education and care and out-of-school time (EEC-OST) programs in the FY’17 budget despite a $750M revenue shortfall and cutting more than $413M in proposed spending from budget bills agreed to in April and May.
We also want to give a big THANK YOU to our Coalition members – who have almost tripled in the past year and now stand at 74 members strong – for their tireless work advocating for Massachusetts’ children!
We have come this far – but our job is not done. The budget will now be sent to the Governor for his signature. The Governor still has the power of the veto. Let’s continue to advocate for stabilizing the workforce and preserving and growing the quality programs we have across our state!
From the State House News Service – June 17, 2016
IN HONOR OF FATHER’S DAY, SPEAKING OUT FOR MORE EARLY EDUCATION
Massachusetts Fair Share
BOSTON – As we approach Father’s Day, Massachusetts dads are calling for more investment in early education. Massachusetts Fair Share has been collecting photo petitions from people across Massachusetts to #SupportEarlyEd.
“As a dad, it’s incredible to see how quickly my young children learn things, how fast their brains are developing,” said Massachusetts Fair Share Director Nathan Proctor, father of a 3 year-old and 8-month-old. “The science backs this up, telling us that 90% of brain development happens by age five. That’s why we need to make sure that every child has the chance to receive a high-quality early education.”
As state leaders work to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate budgets, Massachusetts Fair Share, along with the Put MA Kids First Coalition, is supporting the higher level of funding in two critical early education line items. The Early Education and Rate Reserve ($15M, 1599-0042), which supports early educators, and Early Education Quality Improvement ($2M, 3000-1020), which helps early education programs raise and maintain their level of quality in the state’s quality rating system.
But all of the critical increases to early education are endangered by the current budget shortfall.
“The increases represented in the draft budget are critical to ensuring more children get a strong start,” said Proctor. “We shouldn’t balance the budget by mortgaging our future and the success of our children.”
Contact Your Legislator Today!
- $15M for the Early Education and School Age Rate Reserve (1599-0042), which:
- Moves reimbursement rates closer to the 75th percentile, which is the level recommended by the federal government
- Seeks to reduce the 30% turnover rate estimated in the field
- Supports the early educator workforce – 37% of whom are reliant on some form of public assistance to support their families (for example food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid (MassHealth), and cash assistance (TANF))
- $2M earmarked in the Quality Improvement line item (3000-1020) for direct grants to early education and care programs, which:
- Would help programs raise and maintain their level of quality
- Is critical to helping programs meet state standards for effective early learning environments
- Would enable more early education and care programs to improve their quality.
In FY’16, 586 programs applied for funding and only 196 were funded. Protect critical investments for quality early education and care programs for our infants and toddlers and the stability of the fragile EEC-OST workforce in the Conference Committee!
Putting early education front and center in Mass.
By Shirley Leung, Boston Globe, June 3, 2016
“House Speaker Bob DeLeo is done talking about the value of preschool education. It’s time to get it right in Massachusetts.
This week DeLeo began meeting with a group of business leaders to develop a plan on how the state could increase not only access to early education but improve quality. His goal: Come up with a set of recommendations that can be turned into legislation or new programs by the next budget cycle.
More than expanding charter schools, reforming preschool could be one of the most important education initiatives for the Commonwealth in decades. Study after study indicates that kids who are schooled at an early age graduate from high school and college at higher rates than those who do not. They are also less likely to abuse drugs, end up in jail, or rely on public assistance.
Yet in the fight for scarce public dollars, early education has been low on the priority list, overshadowed by the needs in K-12 and public colleges.
“We’re so worried about kindergarten and up, but we’re really not setting forth the foundation for education,” DeLeo told me in an interview Wednesday at his State House office. “In talking it through, I found that we really weren’t paying enough attention to early education.”
Even though Massachusetts was the first state to create a department of early education in 2005, rolling out universal preschool has been more complicated than anyone thought. Of the nearly 225,000 children who are between 3 and 5 years old in Massachusetts, about 30 percent remain unschooled, according to advocacy group Strategies for Children.”
Support Early Ed and Out-of-School Time in FY’17
The coalition’s two priorities are:
1. Amendment 139 – Increasing the Early Education and School Age Rate Reserve (1599-0042), which will
• Move reimbursement rates closer to the 75th percentile, which is the level recommended by the federal government to ensure equal access
• Seeks to reduce the 30% turnover rate estimated in the field
• Supports the early educator workforce – 37% of whom are reliant on some form of public assistance to support their families.
The Senate Ways and Means appropriated $10M to the rate reserve. Please ask your Senator to support Amendment 139 sponsored by Senator Moore to increase this amount by an additional $10M.
2. Amendment 215 – $2M in direct grants to programs, in the Quality Improvement line item (3000-1020), which:
• Would help early education and care programs raise and maintain their level of quality
• Is critical to helping programs meet state standards for effective early learning environments
• Would enable more early education and care programs to improve their quality. In FY’16, 586 programs applied for funding and only 196 were funded
Please ask your Senator to support Amendment 215 sponsored by Senator Forry to specifically earmark $2M in line item 3000-1020 for direct grants to early education and care programs.
In 2016, over $1.5M for these direct grants funded quality improvement initiatives in 196 programs across the state, creating incentives for credentialed educators and enabling programs to make upward progress on the levels defined in the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). For more information and a list of programs that received funding in FY’16, please visit http://www.cybergrants.com/qrisgrants/
Please ask your Senator to support these vital budget items. Putting MA Kids First puts the Commonwealth’s economic, social, and innovative future first!