Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children


In Massachusetts, there’s a new state law on the books – the Student Opportunity Act. It calls on school districts to close the achievement gap by investing historic new state funding for education ($1.5 billion over seven years) in proven solutions.

One solution that districts can choose: high-quality early education and care.

Districts have until April 1, 2020, to develop and submit their plans for closing the gap to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley explained last fall that school superintendents have to work with school committees to develop:

“…a three-year, evidence-based plan to address persistent disparities in achievement among student subgroups. In developing its plan, each district must consider input and recommendations from parents and other community stakeholders, including special education and English learner parent advisory councils, school improvement councils, and educators.”

The law identifies several evidence-based interventions districts can chose from to close the achievement gap, including “expanding early education and pre-kindergarten programming within the district in consultation or in partnership with community-based organizations.” In his guidance to districts, Commissioner Riley has identified pre-k expansion and early literacy as Priority Programs.

So please join Strategies for Children by reaching out to your district officials and asking if they are including preschool expansion in their plans.

Be sure to emphasize the powerful impact of preschool programs and the importance of the state’s mixed-delivery model of early education, which lets parents choose among center-based programs, school programs, and family child care programs to find the best match for their children’s needs and their family schedules.

This outreach is important in communities like Holyoke, Lawrence, and New Bedford that have already expanded their mixed-delivery system using federal PEG Grant funds and/or state funds from the Commonwealth Preschool Partnership Initiative (CPPI).

The outreach is also important in communities that have not yet started preschool planning or expansion. Reach out to your district officials to make sure preschool is on their radar.

The PEG and CPPI funding streams have already sparked creative collaborations between schools and early childhood programs. And these collaborations help ensure that no matter what type of setting children are in, they are benefitting from high-quality teaching and curricula.

If you have a great story to share about your community’s own early education/school collaborations – or if you would like help with local advocacy efforts, please contact Titus Dos Remedios, director of research and policy at Strategies for Children, at

As Commissioner Riley says:

“We have once again reaffirmed public education is cherished in the Commonwealth. It is now up to all of us to ensure we spend these substantial new funds in the way the Act intends, making certain that all of our students have access to an excellent education.”