We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.
Below is a statement from our Coalition on Early Education in Mass., the Put MA Kids First coalition:
May 12, 2015 – The Senate Ways & Means proposed FY2016 budget released today misses the mark on quality for early education and care and out-of-school time programs. An investment in access without an accompanying investment in quality fails to advance better outcomes for children.
Preparing our children for a lifetime of learning requires access to high quality early education and out-of-school time programs as well as maintaining a consistent, well-credentialed educator workforce.
Without an improvement in quality, the Senate’s proposed $12 million to increase access is insufficient. We must do both. We need to make a serious investment in early childhood teachers, who are on the front lines of our children’s development, teaching and nurturing them each day in a field that requires quality and consistency to be effective. Children’s early learning experiences are crucial to their emotional and intellectual development and ultimately affect how well they will perform in school and life.
However, with average salaries of $12.30/hour and a turnover rate of nearly 30 percent, quality and consistency become increasingly difficult to maintain. The Senate’s proposed investment of $2.5 million amounts to an increase of roughly 1%, which doesn’t reflect genuine support for quality or recognize the value of our early educator workforce.
As part of our multi-year campaign to support the retention of quality standards in early education and out-of-school-time programs, the Put MA Kids First coalition hopes the Senate will consider a long-term commitment to reinvest in our state’s youngest children and make quality a higher priority.
Over the past 15 years, our early education and after-school education programs have lost more than $114 million in state funding, while K-12 funding has increased by over $400 million during the same time period. This decrease has resulted in a reduction in the quality and availability of services that our children need and deserve.
In Massachusetts, there are more than 8,800 community-based early education and care programs employing over 40,000 people, with revenues of $1.5 billion. In the past few years, 20 percent of community-based early education providers have closed because of a lack of support from the state.
We look forward to working with the Senate in the coming weeks to stabilize and strengthen our early education and care programs by recognizing that quality is as fundamental as access. Our kids can’t wait.