Preschool expansion bills will not become law this year. On June 21, State House News Service reported, “Ahead of a deadline last Friday to act on legislation relating to expanding access to early education, the Legislature's Joint Committee on Education sent all 10 of the bills to study, ending their move through the legislative process.”
Here at Strategies for Children, we began working on comprehensive pre-K expansion legislation in fall 2014. We worked with Representative Alice Peisch and Senator Sal DiDomenico to file An Act Ensuring High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education in January 2015. We testified in support of the legislation in September 2015. Since the beginning we have worked with our allies Stand for Children to raise awareness and momentum statewide.
While the recent news is disappointing, Strategies for Children is already looking ahead to the next legislative session. We have advocated for high-quality early education for the past 15 years, including the creation of the Department of Early Education and Care in 2005, and the passage of An Act Relative to Early Education and Care in 2008. While progress has been made, there is still much to be done. Today 30-40% of children statewide still have no formal preschool experience prior to kindergarten. In communities across the state, high-quality preschool remains unaffordable for many families. Failing to invest in early learning opportunities contributes to our state’s large educational achievement gaps, and hurts our long-term economic competitiveness.
We will continue to advocate for all Massachusetts children, from birth to age five, to have access high-quality early education programs that prepare them for success in school and life.
Stay tuned for updates and thank you for your advocacy.