Read all about preschool in several articles in the recent issue of Boston Magazine.
The theme for this issue is education, with a special look at early education.
One article – “Whatever Happened to Universal Pre-K in Boston?” – looks at what “universal” has meant under Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
As the article explains, universal preschool does not, in Boston, mean more preschool spots; it means more quality.
“In fact,” the article says, “when you tally up Boston’s public school classrooms, charters, parochials, and community-based programs, plus federal Head Start, there has been more than enough free or subsidized pre-K to go around for Boston’s 6,000 four-year-olds since Walsh first set foot in City Hall. It’s just that not all of it was created equal. ‘Most of the country wants to get universal access,’ says Rahn Dorsey, the city’s chief of education, ‘but access without quality doesn’t close the achievement gap.’ ”
“So why haven’t we been able to get to a truly ‘universal’ system?“ the article asks. “Unlike the Big Apple—which rapidly developed a free pre-K program for all city kids with a $300 million infusion of upstate money—lawmakers here can never seem to find enough funding.”
In the article, “How Low Can Preschool Teacher Salaries in the Boston Area Go?”, our own Amy O’Leary, director of Strategies for Children’s Early Education for All campaign, says, “When we think about early education, we think about sunshine and rainbows, not food stamps and Section 8 housing,” pointing to the struggles that many early educators face, including Aiyauna Terry, a preschool teacher featured in the article who lives from paycheck to paycheck and struggles to make ends meet. The article adds:
“As the cost of living continues to soar in Massachusetts, the median wage for a preschool teacher remains stubbornly low, at just $15.18 an hour in 2015. Thirty-nine percent of early-childhood educators qualify for public assistance here.”
What do parents need to know about preschool? Good questions and answers are available in the article, “Bright and Early: Everything You Need to Know About Preschool around Boston.” For example:
“Why is preschool in Boston so damn expensive?”
“At an average of $14,256 per year for a four-year-old, in fact, our state ranks as the second-most-expensive place for childcare in the country, according to the national nonprofit Childcare Aware America. That’s partly because the cost of living is so high here, but that’s just one factor. Another is teacher-to-child ratios, which vary by state. Massachusetts requires one teacher for every 10 four-year-old students; by contrast, some states allow as many as 18 or 20 kids per teacher, according to the most recent available data collected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Factor in the number of hours required to cover working parents, and costs add up fast. Bostonians also pay more to give our children the best. Want outside play space? Enrichment activities? Organic snacks? ‘All of those enhancements to quality increase costs,’ says Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.”
And: “What is the latest thinking on screens? Do I want a preschool loaded with tech or one with none at all?”
“Because philosophies on tech exposure are always changing, the best approach is to find a school with a thoughtful policy that matches what you believe is best for your child.”
Be sure to read the articles and share them with your personal and social networks.
Or let Boston Magazine know what you think by writing a letter to the editor that can be emailed to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address.
You can also use the snail mail address:
Letters to the Editor
300 Massachusetts Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Speak up – or write – and keep the conversation going!