Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children
Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

A letter from Massachusetts Fair Share and a statewide, bipartisan group of 136 city councilors, selectmen, and school board officials calls on Massachusetts to lead by investing more funds in early education.

“When it comes to early education, we’re falling behind,” the letter says. “While states like Oklahoma guarantee a year of public preschool for every child, Massachusetts state spending on early education and care has declined by 50% since 2001.”

On its website, Massachusetts Fair Share explains:

“Along with the 60 other groups in the Put MA Kids First coalition, we are calling for increased investments in early learning programs, anchored in a quality workforce. One of the top issues that the field of early education and care has identified is a dramatic drop in the number of early education programs, and alarmingly high turnover of the early educator workforce.”

The letter adds:

“Providing all children access to a high-quality early education is essential to creating a level playing field, so that no child starts kindergarten already behind. Participation in high-quality early learning programs helps children better realize their full potential, reduces the achievement gap and provides a strong foundation for future success.”

The commitment is inspiring. Nathan Proctor, the state director of Massachusetts Fair Share, tells us, “My perspective has really changed as Massachusetts Fair Share has spent a lot of time talking to city councilors, boards of selectman, and other local leaders over the last few months about early education. After you spend countless hours calling local leaders asking for support, it becomes obvious that people are really interested in seeing major progress. Those on the front lines of education in the community are eager to have more tools to help address kindergarten readiness by investing in early education.”

The signers come from cities and towns across the state, including: Boston, Chelsea, Holyoke, Methuen, North Adams, Pittsfield, Quincy, Springfield, and Wellfleet. And they have all endorsed in this simple, powerful idea:

“Every child deserves a fair chance in life, and this begins with quality early education and care.”

This groundswell of local support could trigger statewide change.