In the course of our school visits, Senator Brownsberger and I have witnessed many challenges faced by today’s educators, as well as the impressive work they do with limited resources. Americans have long considered hard work and education as key to achieving the American dream. Recent studies demonstrate, however, that the United States is “less upwardly mobile society than many comparable nations, particularly for men,” according to a recent piece by Timothy Egan in the New York Times. Individuals living in poverty face tremendous hurdles when it comes to attaining higher education. Jason de Parle, in a New York Times piece that follows three driven, intelligent, and hard-working young women from low-income families in their quest to attain higher education, found that “education, a force meant to erode class barriers, appears to be fortifying them.”
These discouraging trends beg the question as to how to lower these barriers so that individuals may attain their greatest potential, regardless of socioeconomic background. Senator Brownsberger has been exploring the possibilities for improved access to education and differentiated learning that lie in online learning. Another promising area that might serve as a tool for lowering barriers to attainment is quality early education. Reportedly, quality early education leads to improved long-term educational and socioeconomic outcomes, saving $13 or $16 (depending on the study referenced) in societal costs for every dollar invested in early education. How can we ensure quality- and thus, improved long-term outcomes? Massachusetts identifies five standards of quality, according to the Commonwealth’s Quality Rating and Improvement System:
- Curriculum and Learning
- Safe, Healthy Indoor and Outdoor Environments
- Workforce Development and Professional Qualifications
- Family and Community Engagement; and
- Leadership, Administration and Management.
The Governor’s budget and revenue proposal would invest heavily in early education. Are these the right investments?
Anne Johnson Landry
Committee Counsel and Policy Advisor
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger