Early learning: key to life success

Solid Ground is joining the Children’s Alliance and other members of the Equity in Education Coalition in asking Washington State’s congressional delegation and the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to incorporate the needs and strengths of Dual Language Learners into proposed high-quality early learning initiatives.

“Brains are like buildings – they start with a foundation. Birth through age five is a crucial time to give children the kinds of enriching experiences and environments they need to build a foundation for success – both in school and in life,” states the Early Learning Action Alliance, convened by the Children’s Alliance.

Congress is considering a state/national partnership that would expand access to high-quality early learning for kids ages birth through five.

“As our nation moves toward the promise of providing quality early learning for every child who needs it, we must ensure that programs are tailored to meet the needs of dual language learners who are the fastest-growing segment of young children,” stated Tony Lee, Solid Ground Advocacy Director.

iis-logoThe proposal would:

  • Provide high-quality preschool. A new state/federal partnership would invest $75 billion over 10 years to provide all four-year-olds living in families with low and moderate incomes access to high-quality preschool.
  • Grow the supply of effective early learning opportunities for young children. In the years before preschool, a new $1.4 billion Early Head Start/Child Care partnership would support communities with expanding the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers.
  • Extend and expand evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs. Home visiting programs enhance children’s cognitive, language and learning skills, improve maternal and child health in the early years and leave long-lasting positive impacts on parenting skills. The proposal calls for $15 billion over 10 years for these important services.

Under the current proposal, in the first year alone, Washington is estimated to receive:

  • $61 million for participation in voluntary Preschool for All, helping serve 7,451 children from families with low and moderate incomes.
  • $8 million for evidence-based voluntary home visiting Early Head Start/Child Care partnerships that would help provide 18,723 children ages 0-3 with high-quality early care and education.

Watch this Early Learning Matters: Invest in Us video for more information.

As the proposal moves forward, Solid Ground is proud to stand with the Children’s Alliance and these partners in our community:

Community members are urged to contact their Members of Congress and urge them to support strong investment in early learning. For more information, or to get involved, contact Melissa Bailey at the Children’s Alliance: Melissa@childrensalliance.org.

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Tough talk on how children succeed

Nicole Brodeur to host Tough talk on how children succeed at Solid Ground’s 13th Annual Building Community Luncheon, April 5

Paul Tough, best-selling author

Paul Tough, best-selling author

For nearly 40 years, Solid Ground has grappled with how to effectively end poverty for families and individuals. How do people build the foundation they need so that they and their children can thrive?

On April 5, 2013, we are bringing best-selling author Paul Tough to our Building Community Luncheon to help us find out. (Noon – 1:30 pm at the Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave. Guests asked to give a suggested minimum donation of $150.)

“Paul Tough has scoured the science and met the people who are challenging what we thought we knew about childhood and success,” said author Charles Duhigg. “And now he has written the instruction manual. Every parent should read this book – and every policymaker, too.”

To that we add: Every social change agent should read it – and hear from Paul Tough as well!

Tough’s How Children Succeed picks up where his look at Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone left off. In it, he presents cutting edge research from neuroscientists and psychologists about the challenges that most significantly impact young children, especially those growing up in poverty. Educators weigh in on some of the most promising school- and community-based interventions.

As Solid Ground interacts with kids from families living on low-incomes in school-based programs through Washington Reading Corps, Apple Corps and Penny Harvest – and houses an increasing population of young children – we continue to build and refine our own models of support for families moving from crises to thriving.

The Luncheon will shed light on the generational success stories coming out of our Broadview program, which has been responding to the needs of women and kids experiencing homelessness, most of them victims of domestic violence, for more than 20 years. And we will engage Tough in a dynamic conversation that moves beyond a standard keynote speaker’s recitation of the highlights of their book.

Nicole Brodeur

Nicole Brodeur

Noted local journalist Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times will emcee the event and lead a conversation with Tough focusing on how a social justice agency like Solid Ground can incorporate new understandings and best practices into our work.

In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Annie Murphy Paul said that Tough’s work “illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”

Much of the book revolves around a developing thesis that success is based more on character traits than cognitive skills. Among the most important is learning how to manage and overcome failure.

Tough looks at science that demonstrates how our adrenal response to environmental stress can program us for failure. Neuroscientists and psychologists weigh in on how growing up in poverty creates stress and trauma that lead to “impaired social skills, an inability to sit still and follow directions, and what teachers perceive as misbehavior.”

“Despite these children’s intense needs, school reformers have not been very successful at creating interventions that work for them; they have done much better at creating interventions that work for children from better-off low-income families, those making $41,000 a year. No one has found a reliable way to help deeply disadvantaged children, in fact. Instead, what we have created is a disjointed, ad hoc system of governmental agencies and programs that follow them haphazardly through their childhood and adolescence,” Tough writes.

But, having said that, Tough documents reformers in schools and other settings whose efforts are making an impact on their communities, and offers learnings that can influence our work in Seattle and beyond.

“But we could design an entirely different system for children who are dealing with deep and pervasive adversity at home,” Tough writes.

Come join us on April 5 to be part of this conversation and hear directly from Tough what Solid Ground and you can do to help children succeed.

Public education: Show us the money!

When it comes to K-12 education funding in Washington State, now is the time to ask tough questions:

  • Do you know how much we spend per student?
  • Are we falling short?
  • Are we adequately addressing the achievement gap that continues to affect low-income students and students of color?
  • How do we fix our broken funding system?

The Community Forums Network (CFN) is surveying Washington State residents until October 28 to gather public input for policy makers, local media and other stakeholders.

Please take 10-15 minutes to get your voice into the conversation!

To get started, go to the CFN website. Watch the six-minute video that frames the issue, then take the online survey. At the end of the survey you can select Solid Ground to receive points toward earning a grant.

Solid Ground’s Advocacy Director Tony Lee is currently helping build a coalition of groups representing minority communities to advocate for additional resources for programs and strategies to eliminate the achievement gap impacting low-income students and students of color in K-12 education. A question about this strategy is included in the survey.

CFN is dedicated to asking great questions and starting valuable conversations that help our communities move forward. They are making it easier for all of us to dive in and be heard.

Upon completion of its research, CFN will prepare a “Where’s the consensus?” report for local decision makers, media partners and all of us.

“That way we amplify your voice and focus on finding solutions together,” states the CFN website. “In the end, open communication builds stronger communities.”

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