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Mark Connolly Releases Education Policy Plan

CONCORD — Today, Mark Connolly, Democratic candidate for Governor, released his education policy plan, which prioritizes equality of opportunity and access, sensible funding mechanisms, and collaborative engagement with the private sector. 

The plan includes four policy areas: providing students with a world-class education, building a funding system that works, promoting collaborative engagement, and ensuring college affordability. Connolly will lead a conference call to discuss his vision for education in the Granite State, with special guest Dana Hilliard, Mayor of Somersworth and Principal of Somersworth Middle School.

I know firsthand that education makes a difference in every child’s life. As Governor, giving every New Hampshire student the same opportunities I had in the classroom will be my top priority. 

Access to quality public education, with strong teachers and caring mentors, made all the difference in my life. Without a public school teacher who stood up for me and encouraged me to realize my full potential, I would never have been driven to excel in high school, attend and graduate college and business school, and build a successful career in the public and private sectors. 

Studies estimate 68 percent of New Hampshire jobs will require education beyond high school by 2020; based on current trends, it’s unlikely New Hampshire will be able to keep up. To grow our economy and create the opportunity every Granite Stater deserves—the ability to live, work, and raise a family of their own right here in New Hampshire—we must address this disparity now.

The Community College System of New Hampshire has created the “65×25” initiative to help ensure that, by 2025, 65 percent of Granite Staters in the workforce have some form of post-secondary education.

As Governor, I will work to give every Granite Stater a world-class education—starting with our youngest students and continuing through graduation—to make sure that every student has career-ready skills to fill the innovation-economy jobs being created all across New Hampshire.

Connolly’s education plan is available below and online at MarkConnollyNH.com/Education

Provide Students with a World-Class Education

Our children deserve a world-class education, starting in early childhood and continuing through graduation, complete with career-ready skills. They’re not just competing with students from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and California for jobs anymore—they’re competing with students in Singapore, Shanghai, and Taipei, too. That means we need to innovate when it comes to how we approach education. 

  1. Reaching young people early in life is critical to ensuring their future success. We need to further implement early-childhood education programs across New Hampshire and fully fund universal kindergarten in every community in our state.
  2. Our focus on education must evolve to provide a workforce for our business community. As New Hampshire’s innovation economy grows, we need to prioritize Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Design, and Math (STEAM) programs in our schools to give our young people the opportunity to pursue the careers of the future right here in New Hampshire. 
  3. Students succeed when they have great teachers. We must do more to attract and retain top-tier educators in our public schools, including paying them a quality salary, offer the training they need to succeed and the resources they need in the classroom, and guaranteeing them a safe and secure retirement.

Build a Funding System That Works

For decades, our government has failed to properly fund public education. The current stabilization-and-cap formula just doesn’t work. That’s why, as Governor, I will focus on reworking the state’s contribution to public education. 

  1. New Hampshire’s education-funding formula cannot turn into a political calculation. We need to target aid to the communities that need it most, and we must ensure that students are not left behind due to geography. Every New Hampshire student deserves the same opportunities to succeed, no matter where they live.
  2. School-building aid needs to be incorporated into our education funding formula to maintain our valuable facilities. Students cannot succeed in crumbling schools and outdated structures.
  3. Resources must go where they’re needed most: into the classroom. We should consider consolidating some administrative responsibilities across school districts in order to reduce costs elsewhere.

 Promote Collaborative Engagement

We must also ensure New Hampshire’s newest and most innovative businesses have the talent pool they need. I call it collaborative engagement: matching the needs of businesses with education. By offering career-ready standards, we can prepare a new generation of students for 21st-century professions right here in New Hampshire. 

  1. New Hampshire needs to better measure what’s actually learned, both in and out of school. Our educational system should measure more than time in the classroom, and it’s time we moved beyond ideological debates about standardized testing and start moving toward solutions that allow our graduates to compete on a global scale.
  2. Students should be encouraged to pursue career-ready skills. Competency-based education should be a priority of our education system, not an afterthought, and the state should increase support to programs like New Hampshire Scholars and WorkReadyNH, which provide students opportunities to develop career-ready skills while still enrolled in school.
  3. Investment in collaborative engagement is the way toward the future. New Hampshire’s business community must actively engage with our education system and provide resources to allow students to pursue internships, mentorships, apprenticeships, and vocational trades while in high school.
  4. New Hampshire should promote more STEM and STEAM opportunities. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation estimates there are more than 700 STEM-related efforts across New Hampshire. As Governor, I will convene a STEM Leadership Council to ensure these efforts are coordinated with agreed-upon goals and measured benchmarks.

Ensure High School Graduates Can Afford Higher Education

We are a stronger state when our high school and college students stay in New Hampshire after graduation. But, all too often, our graduates leave the state to pursue a higher education, a career, or both—and they don’t come back. Our growing innovation economy requires an educated workforce, and we must reverse this alarming trend if New Hampshire is to succeed. 

  1. More New Hampshire students should be prepared for a great career in the Granite State. Expand certificate, dual-admission, and college-credit attainment programs in high school—so we can ensure our children are both college- and career-ready and equipped to compete with their peers in every other state as well as around the globe.
  2. Synergy between community and four-year colleges will help keep students local. Further aligning the Community College System of New Hampshire with the University System of New Hampshire would allow students to seamlessly transfer credits earned towards a four-year degree—helping them reach their potential in the world of higher education without having to leave the Granite State.
  3. Change begins with properly funding higher education. As Governor, I would restore funding to the University System of New Hampshire to the pre-2011 level of $104 million.

Van Ostern says Sununu’s Pledge to “Gut the Board of Education” is “The Sort of Insult and Threat You’d Expect from Donald Trump”

At Debate last week, Sununu said, “I’m Going To Gut The Board Of Education”

Teacher calls threat “offensive” and School Board member says it’s “totally irresponsible”

Colin Van Ostern

Colin Van Ostern announces his run for Governor of New Hampshire in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday, October 8, 2015.
Copyright 2015 Rob Strong

MANCHESTER, N.H. – Yesterday, educators and education advocates joined Democratic candidate for Governor, Colin Van Ostern in a conference call, where they condemned Chris Sununu for pledging to “Gut the Board of Education” at last week’s Republican gubernatorial debate.

“We need to invest in education, not ‘gut’ education in our state,” said Colin Van Ostern, Democratic candidate for Governor. “Chris Sununu’s rhetoric is as bad as Ted Gatsas’s record. We’ve seen what happens when that sort of a threat gets put into practice, that’s the attitude Ted Gatsas had as Mayor in Manchester. We’ve seen budgets slashed, class sizes ‘swollen’ and surrounding towns going out of the school district. Now, unfortunately Chris Sununu is trying to out-Gatsas Ted Gatsas.  […] This is the sort of insult and threat that you’d expect from Donald Trump.  A Governor needs to bring people together to solve problems, not tear them apart and insult them. As Governor, I will work with teachers, parents and education leaders to make sure every kid has the chance at a world-class education.”

New Hampshire educators also offered a stern rebuke of Chris Sununu’s remark, including Karen Ladd who has worked very closely with New Hampshire’s Board of Education to deliver innovative and award-winning curriculum to her students at Sanborn High School.

“Chris Sununu’s words are offensive and they treat educators and education leaders like enemies. I was deeply offended – as a teacher and as a taxpayer,” said Karen Ladd, an art teacher at Sanborn High School in Kingston. “New Hampshire has some of the best schools in the country and by cooperating with education leaders at the state school board, we’re decreasing reliance on standardized tests and other states look to NH as a model for what we are doing.”

She added that the Board “has had a profound impact on my ability to provide the best educational opportunities for my own students. Having the Board of Education available to help monitor and coordinate our efforts, to provide this education regardless of zip codes and where students are in the state, really ensures that I can spend more time working with my students and design an engaging curriculum. Frankly, we need a Governor that will support this joint effort, not undermine it.”

“The very thought that somebody could say that we should gut the Board of Ed is just totally irresponsible,” added Leslie Want, a Manchester School Board member who represents Ward 4.

Kuster Hosts College Affordability Forum at ConVal Regional High School

(May 3, 2016 ǀ Rep. Kuster with ConVal High School students following her forum today.)

(May 3, 2016 ǀ Rep. Kuster with ConVal High School students following her forum today.)


Peterborough, NH
 – This morning, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) hosted a forum at ConVal Regional High School with students, administrators, and community members to discuss the importance of increasing college affordability. The forum gave students and parents a chance to engage with a panel of key stakeholders in the higher education arena, and discuss initiatives aimed at increasing access and reducing the costs of postsecondary education. 

“Everyone knows that a good education is the key to success. Yet far too many families in the Granite State and across the country simply cannot afford to send their children to college, or to fund any postsecondary studies,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “In the land of opportunity, that’s simply not right. That’s why I’ve been working on a number of initiatives to reduce the cost of college, and I’ve held a series of forums at colleges and high schools across the state to bring together stakeholders and families to discuss how we can work collaboratively to ensure families have the support they need to help their children access higher education. I thank all the participants in today’s forum for contributing to a robust discussion about higher education costs, and I look forward to bringing their thoughts and comments back to Washington with me, where I will continue to push for measures on the federal level to increase college affordability.”

Students and parents were invited to attend today’s open forum at ConVal High School, where they were encouraged to share their thoughts about how the federal government can help reduce education costs for Granite State families. Kuster was joined at the forum by a number of local education stakeholders who are also working towards this mutual goal: Tori Berube, the Vice President of College Planning and Engagement at the NH Higher Education Assistance Foundation; Tom Raffio, the Chair of the NH State Board of Education; Mark Rubinstein, the President of the Granite State College; Lizbeth Gonzalez, the Vice President for Student and Community Affairs at Nashua Community College; Karen Shedin, the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Rivier University; and a number of counselors and educators from ConVal Regional High School. During the forum, participants and audience members discussed a number of topics, including college and career readiness, financial aid and grant funding, college planning resources, and dual enrollment programs, among others. 

Kuster has long fought to ensure that all Granite State students can access the college education and job training necessary to further their careers, including through the critical role she played in creating New Hampshire’s UNIQUE College Savings Program. During today’s forum, she outlined current steps she is taking in Congress to help parents save for their children’s education, and measures she is supporting to ensure students are prepared for college, including her support for the recent reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which rectifies many of the flawed provisions implemented under the No Child Left Behind Act. Kuster successfully fought Tea Party attempts to allow student loan interest rates to double back in 2012, and she is currently pushing for legislation that would allow students and their families to refinance their loans at a lower rate. Kuster has held a number of college affordability forums at high schools and colleges across the state, and she works to help students and their families learn about resources that can help them send their children to college.

Granite State Rumblings: Helping Children Through Extended Illnesses and Importance Of Reading Everyday

One of the hardest things for a family to go through is a child’s extended illness. It does not matter how old the child is, or how severe the illness, when your kid is not well, the world seems to be off its axis.

The longer the illness lingers and the more severe it is can bring great stress to the primary caregiver, family relationships, and the ability to rationalize. All you want is for the pain to stop, the medications to do their job, and the smile on your child’s face to return. Time seems to move more slowly and days and nights become one.

If the child needs to be hospitalized it can be a difficult time for him or her no matter their age. Illness and hospital stays are both stressful. They disrupt a child’s life and can interfere with normal development.

While they are in the hospital, children may miss their friends and family. They may be bored, and they may be afraid. They may not understand why they are in the hospital, or they may have false beliefs about what is happening to them.

Many hospitals now have on staff as part of their multi-disciplinary health care team someone who is known as a Child Life Specialist. I first heard of this position when a former intern asked me to write a recommendation to include with her application to the program.

Since then, I have seen the amazing work they do while Spidey has been in and out of Boston Children’s Hospital the last four months due to complications from a perforated appendix. I also have high praise and much admiration for the doctors, nurses, and other members of his medical team. His care has been extraordinary. He will overcome this and flag football, fishing, and Fisher Cats games will be back on our agenda.

I hope that you never have to spend a prolonged amount of time in a hospital with your child or grandchild, but if you do, please be sure to ask for the Child Life Specialist to pay a visit.

Here is information about the Child Life Specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital:

Child Life Specialists enhance a patient’s emotional, social and cognitive growth during a hospital stay, giving special consideration to each child’s family, culture and stage of development.

Using developmental interventions and play, they help patients and families adjust to and understand the hospital and their medical situation.

Child Life Specialists:

  • Help patients develop ways to cope with fear, anxiety, separation and adjustment to the hospital experience
  • Provide consultation to the health care team regarding developmental and psycho-social issues
  • Provide preparation and individualized support before and after medical procedures
  • Facilitate developmentally appropriate play, including medical play, at the bedside, in activity rooms and in clinic areas
  • Initiate tutoring services

As professionals trained to work with children in medical settings, each Specialist holds a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the areas of child life, child development, special education or recreational therapy. Many Child Life Specialists are also professionally certified and affiliated with the National Child Life Council.

Child Life Specialists are also available to help families with questions that may arise about a child’s behavior and adjustment to home or school after they have been in the hospital. We offer:

  • “Back-to-school” programs, on referral, following a patient’s extended hospital stay
  • Resources tailored to meet your child’s needs
  • Suggestions to ease transition and recovery

Visit Activities for Patients for more information about activities provided by Child Life Specialists.

Mother reading to children (Neeta Lind Flikr)GROWING UP GRANITE

Have you seen those bumper stickers that say, Read Aloud to a Child Every Day? Does reading aloud to a child really matter?

YES!

And here is why:

Reading aloud helps children acquire early language skills.

  • Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single most important activity leading to literacy acquisition.  Among other things, reading aloud builds word-sound awareness in children, a potent predictor of reading success.
  • “Children who fall seriously behind in the growth of critical early reading skills have fewer opportunities to practice reading. Evidence suggests that these lost practice opportunities make it extremely difficult for children who remain poor readers during the first three years of elementary school to ever acquire average levels of reading fluency.” Torgeson, J. Avoiding the Devastating Downward Spiral, American Educator. (2004)
  • Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory. Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby! (2009), Paul H Brookes Pub Co.
  • Reading aloud stimulates language development even before a child can talk. Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby! (2009), Paul H Brookes Pub Co.
  • Research shows that the more words parents use when speaking to an 8-month-old infant, the greater the size of their child’s vocabulary at age 3. The landmark Hart-Risley study on language development documented that children from low-income families hear as many as 30 million fewer words than their more affluent peers before the age of 4. Hart, B. Risley, T. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young American Children (1995), Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.

Reading aloud helps children develop positive associations with books and reading.

  • The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.
  • Reading aloud is a proven technique to help children cope during times of stress or tragedy.
  • Reading aloud is a good way to help a child acclimate to new experiences. As your child approaches a major developmental milestone or a potentially stressful experience, sharing a relevant story is a great way to help ease the transition. For instance, if your little one is nervous about starting preschool, reading a story dealing with this topic shows her that her anxiety is normal.

Reading aloud helps children build a stronger foundation for school success.

  • “What happens during the first months and years of life matters, a lot, not because this period of development provides an indelible blueprint for adult well-being, but because it sets either a sturdy or fragile stage for what follows.” J.S. Shonkoff & D. Phillips, Eds., From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development (2000), Washington D.C.; National Research Council & The Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press.
  • Once children start school, difficulty with reading contributes to school failure, which can increase the risk of absenteeism, leaving school, juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and teenage pregnancy – all of which can perpetuate the cycles of poverty and dependency.
  • Reading aloud in the early years exposes children to story and print knowledge as well as rare words and ideas not often found in day-to-day conversations or screen time.
  • Reading aloud gives children the opportunity to practice listening – a crucial skill for kindergarten and beyond.
  • Reading aloud to a child gives them the basics of how to read a book. Children aren’t born with an innate knowledge that text is read from left to right, or that the words on a page are separate from the images. Essential pre-reading skills like these are among the major benefits of early reading.
  • Reading aloud helps them develop more logical thinking skills. Another illustration of the importance of reading to children is their ability to grasp abstract concepts, apply logic in various scenarios, recognize cause and effect, and utilize good judgment. As your toddler or preschooler begins to relate the scenarios in books to what’s happening in his own world, he’ll become more excited about the stories you share.

Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report “Becoming a Nation of Readers,” “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading.”

Despite this advice, however, some educators and many parents don’t read aloud to children from a young age and thus fail to nurture avid and skilled readers. Indeed, this is especially true for children in low-income families. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, only 48 percent of families below the poverty level read to their preschoolers each day, compared with 64 percent of families whose incomes were at or above the poverty level. Children from low-income families are also less likely to have exposure to print materials.

So now that Spring is in the air and Summer is right around the corner have some fun, free time with your child. Visit the library and get some books.

Then in addition to the usual reading places—a couch, an overstuffed armchair, a child’s bed—consider less traditional ones:

  • Outside under a shady tree, in a sandbox or a hammock, or at a nearby park.
  • Toss a sheet over a clothesline or table to create a reading hideaway.
  • Keep a book in the glove compartment of your car for long road trips or traffic delays.
  • Spread a blanket on the floor for an indoor reading picnic.
  • Use your imagination. Almost every room in your house offers exciting reading possibilities.

Happy reading!

Senator David Watters Applauds Senate Passage of Legislation to Help Finance Pre-Kindergarten Education

CONCORD- Today, the NH Senate approved an innovative “pay for success” financing program for pre-kindergarten education. After the Senate passage of SB 503, Senator David Watters (D- Dover) released the following comments:

“I applaud my Senate colleagues for supporting this innovative approach to financing pre-kindergarten education,” said Senator Watters. “New Hampshire is one of a few states in the country that does not provide early childhood education, but SB 503 gives our communities an alternative way to finance this education without putting the burden on the local school districts.” 

Through SB 503’s “pay for success” model, funding for pre-kindergarten education would come from private investors who would then be reimbursed by the state if the program results in improved third grade reading levels or reduces the cost of special education remedial services. The payments will only be made if savings exceed the costs of the program. The first “pay for success” program was established in Utah in 2013 and has proven effective at reducing the cost of special education services and saving the school districts money. The total savings in the first year of the Utah program was $281,550.

“SB 503 is a ‘New Hampshire’ solution to improving education for our children by creating a partnership between our educators and private investors. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support, as this legislation is critical to expanding access to quality education to our children.”

Republicans Kill A Bill To Expand Full Day Kindergarten

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Image by Cole24_ FLICKR

Republicans love to complain that our current education system is failing our children, yet when they are presented with a strong solution to boost early education, they adamantly reject it.

Earlier this month, New Hampshire legislators were given the opportunity to expand the state’s kindergarten program from half-day to full day. The bill, HB 1563, would simply provide additional state funds for schools who are already offering full day kindergarten and those who switch from half-day to full day.

“Full-day kindergarten helps make sure that students build the strong base of learning they will need to succeed throughout school and life,” wrote the National Education Association. “Full-day kindergarten can produce long-term educational gains, especially for low-income and minority students.”

The benefits of full-day kindergarten are well documented. According to research compiled by the Children’s National Defense Fund they found that children:

  • Are more prepared for school: they do better with the transition to first grade, show significant gains in school socialization and are equipped with stronger learning skills
  • Have higher academic achievement in later grades
  • Have better attendance in kindergarten and through the primary grades
  • Show faster gains on literacy and language measures when compared to half-day kindergarten students
  • Have enhanced social, emotional and behavior development
  • Have reduced retention and remediation rates.

These are substantial gains for children and a significant boost to our education system as a whole. Investing in early education will also build a stronger, well-educated workforce in the years to come.

Sadly, this will not become a reality this year because Republicans in the NH House rejected the idea.

In a completely partisan vote, the NH House rejected HB 1563, 205 to 152. Everyone who voted against expanding full day kindergarten was a Republican.

Republicans should stop their whining about the failures of our education system and start looking in the mirror. They are the ones who are failing to invest in a proven, successful program that will create lasting effects on a child’s ability to learn and grow.

We need to elect legislators who are willing to do what is needed to improve our education system, not just what is best for their political careers.


 

UPDATED to correct an error. Not all the Republicans in the House voted against expanding full day kindergarten as previously reported.  Eight Republicans voted for the bill, however all of the votes against the bill were Republicans.

Pregnant Or Returning To Work? Know Your Rights Learning Session In Nashua Dec 15th

Stand With Women Logo

Recently the New Hampshire Citizens Alliance and Granite State Progress launched a new campaign, Stand With Women or Stand in the Way.  The campaign is focused on advancing Freedom, Family Values, Opportunity, and Fairness for women.  Either you stand with women or you are standing in the way.

Tomorrow, December 15th, The Stand With Women campaign will be hosting a learning session in Nashua from 6-7pm at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua.  Below is a short description of what they will be focusing on at this event and a flyer to share with friends and co-workers.

Dealing with morning sickness or returning to work after the birth of your child are hard enough, don’t let workplace non-compliance with your rights make it more difficult. Come learn about the three major acts – Pregnancy Discrimination Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, and Fair Labor Standards Act – that protect you in the workplace and what to do if they are not being met. Then hear an update on other state and federal legislation in the works to strengthen economic security for women and their families.

Pregnant or Returning to Work After a Baby, Know Your Rights - Nashua Flyer

Amherst Education Association Correcting Mis-Information About Amherst Schools

A statement from the Amherst Education Association:

As you may be aware, there have been several presentations at Amherst School Board meetings and in other public venues in recent months from groups and individuals about public education in Amherst. 

The professional educators of the Amherst Education Association believe that many points addressed in such presentations have been inaccurate or misleading, which is why approximately 70 teachers attended the November Amherst School Board meeting to share an educator’s viewpoint.

Among our concerns are the following:

1. Fiscal data being presented to the public is being used in inaccurate or misleading ways.

2. Standardized test results should not be the sole measure of academic quality.

3. The Amherst School Board is already engaged in much of the work these presentations have said the Board should be doing. This work is conducted openly in public sessions with published agendas and minutes. 

4. Statements are being made about the teachers’ collective bargaining agreement as if math teachers, school nurses, English teachers, librarians, art and music teachers, social studies teachers and science teachers and all of our colleagues are the biggest problem faced by the community. Many of these assertions have been made using inaccurate or misleading information.

We firmly believe that making teachers the problem is a misguided approach. As a group of committed professional educators, we will not stand for people coming before the school board and disrespecting the teachers of Amherst who have devoted our careers toward improving our school district and the quality of education for our students.

If the goal is to make Amherst one of the best school districts in the state, a goal we wholeheartedly support, the most productive way to make that happen is to work with teachers, not against them.

The next Amherst School Board meeting is Thursday, December 17th at 6:00 pm in the Souhegan High School learning common – parents and community members who support public education in Amherst are encouraged to attend!

Featured image by Rocksee (Flickr CC)

Granite State Rumblings: Budget Agreement Ups And Down – We Must End The Sequester

Congress West Front Last week Congress passed a budget proposal that locks in funding for the next two years.

It also did several other important things:

In addition to providing more funding that can be used for children’s programs by significantly curtailing for the next two years the “sequester” cuts, that were enacted in 2013, the agreement prevents a 20% cut in disability benefits that some children receive, and it protects the program for the next several years.

Additionally, this agreement ends the threat of government shutdowns and defaulting on the federal government’s debt for the next two years.

These events would have damaged the American economy and threatened jobs.

To see what else the deal entails click here.

On Monday morning President Obama signed the agreement. Here are his remarks:

Remarks by the President at Signing of the Budget Act of 2015

Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, last week, Democrats and Republicans came together to set up a responsible, long-term budget process, and what we now see is a budget that reflects our values, that grows our economy, creates jobs, keeps America safe.

It’s going to strengthen the middle class by investing in critical areas like education and job training and basic research.  It keeps us safe by investing in our national security and making sure that our troops get what they need in order to keep us safe and perform all the outstanding duties that they do around the world.  It protects our seniors by avoiding harmful cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  And it’s paid for in a responsible, balanced way — in part, for example, by making sure that large hedge funds and private equity firms pay what they owe in taxes just like everybody else.

And by locking in two years of funding, it should finally free us from the cycle of shutdown threats and last-minute fixes. It allows us to, therefore, plan for the future.

So I very much appreciate the work that the Democratic and Republican leaders did to get this to my desk.  I think it is a signal of how Washington should work.  And my hope is now that they build on this agreement with spending bills that also invest in America’s priorities without getting sidetracked by a whole bunch of ideological issues that have nothing to do with our budget.

So this is just the first step between now and the middle of December, before the Christmas break.  The appropriators are going to have to do their job; they’re going to have to come up with spending bills.  But this provides them the guidepost and the baseline with which to do that.  And I’m confident that they can get it done on time.  And there’s no better Christmas present for the American people because this will allow the kind of stability and will allow the economy to grow.  At a time when you’ve got great weakness in economies around the world, this puts us on a responsible path and it makes sure that the American people are the beneficiaries.

So I very much appreciate the work.  Let’s keep it going.  With that I’m going to sign it.

(The bill is signed.)

And I want to thank, in particular, the staffs of both Democratic and Republican leaders in both the House and the Senate because they worked overtime to get this done.  I want to thank my own staff — in particular, Katie Fallon and Brian Deese, who are standing in the back.  They gave up a bunch of lost weekends to make this happen, but they did an outstanding job.  And we’re very proud of them.

Thank you very much, everybody.

While the Every Child Matters Education Fund believes that the federal government needs a comprehensive approach, with significant new resources, to address the 16 million children and youth living in poverty who lack a fair shot at success in life, we support this budget agreement and are pleased that the President has signed it.

This agreement is good step in the right direction toward limiting the harmful effects of the sequester cuts. In recent years budget cuts have put enormous pressure on programs that support children and families. According to experts, overall domestic funding is set to force investments in domestic programs to historic lows over the next few years as a percentage of the economy. Yet while this budget deal will not undo these cuts, the deal eliminates 90 percent of the harmful sequester cuts that would have taken effect in fiscal year 2016 and 60 percent of the cuts that would have taken effect in fiscal year 2017 without action.

We asked you to write, e-mail, and call your Members of Congress with the message that the harmful sequester cuts must end. Your actions helped to convince them to vote for this budget agreement.

Budget Act of 2015 votes:

NH – Senator Ayotte, Senator Shaheen, Congresswoman Kuster – AYE

NH — Congressman Guinta – NAY

ME – Senator Collins, Senator King, Congresswoman Pingree,

ME — Congressman Poliquin – AYE

Thank you for taking action!

But our work is not finished.

As our friends at the Coalition on Human Needs point out:

Appropriators in Congress will now begin to divvy up these new top-line dollar figures for the different departments in the federal government and draft legislation that must pass by December 11 when the current government funding runs out. There will be many challenges along the way – both in terms of making sure the money we’ve all fought so hard for goes to the programs that need it, and that no ideological policy changes (known as riders) harm human needs programs or stop the legislation in its tracks and cause a government shutdown.

Advocates across the country need to continue to weigh in with their members of Congress to ensure that we cross the finish line with a funding package that does the most it can to meet the needs of human needs programs and our neighbors they serve.

We will keep you updated as the appropriations process moves forward.


GROWING UP GRANITE

The excerpt below is from the Introduction of a new report from the Center for American Progress by Danielle Ewen and LeighAnn M. Smith.

Fostering School Success with Standards for Nonacademic Skills

When we look at a newborn, we rarely think about the child’s potential for success and skills development for college and career readiness. Instead, we are awed by the baby’s mere existence: her strong grip; her smile; how her eyes track loved ones; how each cry communicates a need to be met. We now know that each of these moments is also an opportunity for the child’s brain to grow; to make new social, emotional, and cognitive connections; and to form important neurological pathways.

As children move from infancy to toddlerhood and into preschool, their brains continue to grow and change. Parents, caregivers, and other trusted adults provide input that helps children master the basic skills they will need in order to climb slide ladders, hold pencils to spell their names, excitedly tell the story of their day, and understand when they are asked to put their toys away.

As children move into kindergarten and first and second grades, they begin to build on these earliest social, emotional, physical, and academic skills. They learn to read and do math; to play with their friends; and to follow rules in the classroom and on the playground. Each new milestone sets these children on the path to college and career readiness.

New evidence highlights the importance of social and emotional skills alongside academic skills for success in school and beyond. Academic skills—including basic literacy and math skills—are well defined and include skills such as learning the alphabet and counting. Social and emotional skills, meanwhile, include sharing, self-control, and building relationships with peers and adults. Yet, when states look to align early learning standards with those for K-12, social and emotional skills are often left out of the standards for children in elementary, middle, and high school—even as new research highlights the importance of these skills throughout elementary school and beyond.

This report explores the reasons for including social and emotional learning in early education standards, as well as detail about the five domains of learning—cognition, approaches to learning, social and emotional development, physical development, and language development—and how several states have incorporated them into their learning standards. By using these examples as guidelines for their own educational standards, other states can align early learning guidelines with standards for K-12 in order to support academic and social-emotional skills for all children.

The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy is hosting viewing parties for the broadcast premier of Raising NH this Thursday, November 5th.

Can you come?

WHAT: “Raising New Hampshire” watch parties
WHEN: This coming Thursday night, Nov 5th at 8pm
WHERE: Concord, Manchester, Wolfeboro, Salem, and more.
RSVP NOW!

This fascinating new special produced by NH Public Television and the Endowment for Health delves into the ways New Hampshire’s kids and parents are impacted by the early education system – what’s working, what’s not, and how it can be fixed.

It’s a must-see for anyone who cares about the next generation of Granite Staters.  And the discussion is going to be great.

RSVP to join us for a free screening near you right now.

There are watch parties confirmed in Concord, Manchester, Salem and Wolfeboro– and we’re adding more every day. Be sure to invite your friends and family to come along.

See the screening locations and sign up for a watch party today.

Granite State Rumblings: Strong Bi-Partisan Support For Early Childhood Education Programs

The Presidential candidates are roaming the hills, to the valleys, to the seacoast of New Hampshire. They are being asked a lot of questions on their stances on everything from Social Security and Medicare to climate change. But the one issue that I seldom hear asked of them on the campaign trail is their stance on early childhood education.

And yet, a new bipartisan poll released last week by the First Five Years Fund finds that 76 percent of voters express support for a proposal that would provide 10 billion federal dollars per year for 10 years in state grants to provide low- and middle-income four-year-olds with access to high quality pre-K programs.

As Aaron Lowenberg writes for New America EdCentral, “At a time when partisan polarization seems to have reached a fever pitch, what’s surprising about the poll results is just how bipartisan the support for investment in early education seems to be. The 76 percent of poll respondents who express support for increased federal investment in early childhood education include 59 percent of Republicans, 69 percent of Independents, and 94 percent of Democrats. Majorities of every partisan persuasion also express support for making early education and child care more affordable, helping states and local communities build better pre-K services, improving early learning programs for infants and toddlers, and providing home visiting and parent education programs to first-time parents.”

He goes on to write:

More than two-thirds of voters express the belief that children currently enter kindergarten lacking the skills and knowledge needed for success. And despite the current climate of fiscal austerity, 74 percent of poll respondents express support for increased early childhood investment even if it increases the deficit in the short-term but pays for itself in the long-term. Multiple studies have shown that this is completely plausible because the return on investment for early childhood education is so high: the programs pay for themselves in the long run by improving children’s education, health, and economic situations so that less government spending is needed later.

A few other findings stand out from the poll results that should grab the attention of candidates running for public office. Fifty-four percent of voters report that they would feel more favorable towards a candidate who supports increased federal investment in early childhood education as opposed to only six percent of voters who would think less favorably of a candidate who supports such investment. Finally, a majority of the most critical swing voter groups report feeling more favorable towards candidates who back increased investment in early education, including Hispanics, Millennials, moderates, and Independent women.

This new poll makes clear there is widespread, bipartisan support for increased investment in high-quality early childhood programs.  At a time when many presidential candidates are struggling to build a winning coalition, candidates would be wise to start talking more about one issue that Americans can agree on regardless of party: the importance of early childhood education.

gsroctober15Here are the key points from the poll:

  • Voters say children getting a strong start in school and education are the best ways to strengthen the middle class.
  • There is continued support for investments in enabling states and communities to provide early childhood education opportunities. Support is evident across the partisan spectrum.
  • In fact, voters would prioritize early childhood education over college.
  • Majority is favorably impressed by a presidential candidate who supports such an approach on early childhood education.

It is clear that voters understand the value of early childhood education and want to see the federal government invest in programs at the state and local levels. Will you help us deliver this message to the Presidential candidates?

We’ll tell you how below.

Growing Up Granite

We Know You Support Kids –
Help Us Hear How the Presidential Candidates will Support Kids

Each Presidential Candidate has been invited to a Candidate Forum at UNH to answer questions related to children, youth and families.

What:  Single Candidate Forums on Children, Youth and Families

Hosts:  Every Child Matters in New Hampshire, MomsRising, and The Department of Social Work at the University of New Hampshire

When:  November and December – dates to be determined

Where:  University of NH, Durham, NH

Each candidate will be encouraged to spend time talking about their plans to ensure every child has the opportunity to grow up healthy, safe, and well educated; and their policies that will support a family friendly workplace and economy.

Here’s What We Need You to Do!!

Tweet the candidates and ask them to participate in an ECMNH/MomsRising/UNH Candidate Forum.

Sample Tweets:

.@marcorubio We want you at an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum on child & family issues in NH http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                 (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

.@hillaryclinton We need your voice on kids & families in an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum in NH http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                 (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

.@martinomalley NH wants to hear your policies on kids & families at an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

.@jebbush Granite Staters want you at an @ECMNH @MomsRising forum on kids & families in NH http://bit.ly/1GpPaf5 #VoteKids #MomsVote                (CLICK HERE TO TWEET)

Candidate Twitter handles:

Hillary Clinton — @hillaryclinton
Martin OMalley — @martinomalley
Bernie Sanders — @berniesanders
Jeb Bush — @jebbush
Ben Carson — @realbencarson
Chris Christie — @chrischristie
Ted Cruz — @tedcruz
Carly Fiorina — @carlyfiorina
Lindsey Graham — @grahamblog
Mike Huckabee — @govmikehuckabee
Bobby Jindal — @bobbyjindal
John Kasich — @johnkasich
George Pataki — @governorpataki
Rand Paul — @randpaul
Marco Rubio — @marcorubio
Rick Santorum — @ricksantorum
Donald Trump — @realdonaldtrump

Please help us to get the candidates talking about the issues that affect children, youth, and families by inviting them to participate in a forum. We’ll be sure to let you know the minute we get a response.

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