We stand up for a Massachusetts where everyone gets a fair shot, does and pays their fair share, and plays by the same rules.
A legislative hearing which covered broad new legislation regarding early education took place on Tuesday, June 20.
As part of the proceedings, Massachusetts Fair Share delivered support from 43 economists in favor of four bills (you can read more here).
The hearing room was full individuals passionate about universal preschool access, adequate compensation for educators, and quality childcare options that are accessible for all. Testimonies stressed the necessity and continuity of such programs as well as accessibility for low-income families, and the opportunity we have to expand what is working.
Here are some highlights:
Mayor Rivera of Lawrence noted how preschool programs dramatically increased student performance in his city. There remains a question about how Lawrence can continue and expand these programs when the federal grant they received runs out, but remains committed to early education as part of improving schools in Lawrence.
A parent from Horizons for Homeless Children shared an emotional testimony about the impact of the program on her and her children’s lives, and how much it has meant for her. Horizons President Kate Barrand added “Shelters and hotels are not built for kids,” stressing the need for childcare programs for families experiencing homelessness.
The Greater Boston YMCA called for proportional investment in early education and after school care, which desperately needed. This point was reinforced by MADCA, an alliance of child care providers, who testified average early education provider salary of $26,000 a year and 37% are on some kind of public assistance. MADCA and the Alliance of Massachusetts YMCA’s testified in support of a bill which create a rate review process to ensure that the reimbursement for subsidizing early education and child care is appropriate, and results in a reasonable wage for educators.
There were concerns about whether the focus should be on preschool for children aged 3 and 4 or childcare for all children aged 0-5. Marie St. Fleur, Put MA Kids First Coalition spokesperson, voiced that “Preschool is critical. There’s no debating that. Thinking about infants and toddlers is also a critical part of this,” stressing the need to focus on children aged 0 to 5.
One thing is clear from the body of testimony: Massachusetts is in need of these early education programs and those programs need the proper support. Massachusetts has the chance to look out the whole system and create a solution that takes in the concerns of educators, parents, and providers and ultimately put the children of the state first.
Blog by Amalia Correia