One cold evening, as January passed into February, I sat down to review over 20 different sources that summarized President Obama’s budget and the probability for the multitude of initiatives to be funded in the budget’s final version. What follows is a consolidated overview of the points I think will be most relevant for our readers. Remember, these are just budget proposals that have been outlined and are not guaranteed until the final budget has been passed. I have ordered the items based on my belief (and only my belief) of their probability for being included in the final budget.
After hundreds of pages of document review, three amazing presentations at the NHSA Winter Leadership Conference, and countless conversations with peers, I am still only grasping at straws in my analysis of what will be included. With the next Presidential race coming up sooner than we realize, a staunchly divided government, but yet a public supportive of early care and education, it is difficult for even for the best political analyst (which I am not) to guess at what will occur in the coming months.
One fact remains: President Obama’s budget did will not adhere to the sequester caps that are currently in place. Unless congress makes changes to sequester caps in law, this budget will not happen. There are two important dates to look at to determine how the budget is progressing—mid-March for the budget mark up in committee and April 15 for the final budget resolution.
In advance of these dates, the President is rallying politicians around the numerous, oft-cited research studies that show the most formative years of a child’s life shape the foundation for learning, school, and workforce success. Unfortunately, in the United States 1 in 5 children live in poverty, and as a result we have an achievement gap of up to 60 percentage points. We know this is short changing our collective future. What we are learning in the global economy is that the future belongs to the nation that best educates its citizens. Because of this, the early care and learning agenda speaks to people on both sides of the political spectrum. Therefore, my summary is that the outcome of this budget is impossible to determine.
I look to Vanessa Rich’s words at the NHSA Winter Leadership Conference to inspire me that this budget is possible. During her remarks she said, “In the budget stalemate of 2014, Congress found the collective common sense to increase early learning funding.” I am hopeful that this “common sense” will continue.
Remember what I said in January ... 2015 is going to be a wild ride!
As the former Vice President of Education and Program Operations, as well as the Head Start/Early Head Start Program Director, of a large Chicago Agency, I am often asked the question, “How did you get your CLASS scores to rise so much?” Our Pre-K Instructional Support scores rose from a 2.65 to a 3.74 the first year, and from a 3.74 to a 4.17 the second year. It wasn’t an easy process. And it was up to us to show our teachers the importance of teacher-student interactions and slowly introduce how CLASS scores could be used to improve these interactions.
Below are three steps we took to introduce the importance of CLASS and interactions to our teachers and, ultimately, raise our CLASS scores.
When my first child was born, I was 30. I was also married, had a master’s degree, and taught in a district that paid pretty well. During my pregnancy, I learned what to look for in high-quality child care and I thought I knew how to find it. What I didn’t know was that even though my husband and I both worked, we couldn’t afford quality child care.
A year ago, urged on by my insightful new colleague, Manda Klein, who was born and raised in Texas, I wrote a blog entitled, At Our Core. It praised the bipartisan efforts to discontinue the practice of separating children from their parents and caregivers at our country’s borders.