The following testimony was submitted today by United Way’s Karley Ausiello to the Joint Committee on Education in support of An Act Ensuring High-Quality Pre-Kindergarten Education (S.240/H.2874)
Dear Chairwoman Chang-Diaz, Chairwoman Peisch and members of the committee,
On behalf of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley (United Way), I urge you to support efforts to provide high-quality pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds.
United Way works to ensure children enter school ready to succeed, youth graduate high school with options, and families are productive and financially stable. The provision of universal high-quality pre-kindergarten fits squarely within this mission. Through our work, we have learned that expansion of pre-kindergarten cannot be just about ensuring access, it must guarantee more children receive a high-quality pre-kindergarten experience. We know from research that early experiences literally shape the development of young children’s brains, and lay the foundation for their future learning and educational success. Preventing problems now, rather than remediating later, is a cost-effective investment that benefits both children and taxpayers alike. S.240 and H.2874 does just this.
Expansion of high-quality pre-kindergarten is a United Way priority. In 2008 and running through June of 2016, the City of Boston and the United Way partnered to launch Thrive in 5, a city-wide movement to ensure children from families of all races, ethnicities, incomes, abilities and languages have the resources they need for success in school and beyond. As a part of that initiative, United Way worked with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) to establish the Boston K1DS Project which expanded the BPS preschool curriculum model in 14 community-based programs and now serves as a model for the federal Preschool Expansion Grant (PEG) across the Commonwealth. United Way remains committed to providing high- quality early education to all children, no matter what neighborhood they live in, or whether their families choose to send them to programs in Boston Public Schools or in other community-based settings. Most recently, United Way served on the City of Boston’s Universal Pre-Kindergarten Advisory Committee, which was charged with developing a city-wide plan ensure a high-quality pre-kindergarten experience for every 4-year-old in Boston. During its convening, this committee concluded 3 things: 1) there must be a focus on high-quality programming, 2) there must be support for a mixed delivery system; and 3) there must be a shared commitment to accountability across school districts and community-based providers.
S.240 and H.2874 continue upon the backs of these achievements in ensuring high-quality educational experiences for all children in the Commonwealth. State support would accelerate efforts to bring these successful models to scale, reaching more children with an approach that will have a positive, lasting impact on efforts to close an ever-widening achievement gap. We strongly support this bill and urge the Committee to report this bill out favorably.
Senior Vice President, Community Impact
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley