Happenings

Cary Kennedy snags endorsement of teachers unions in Colorado governor’s race

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

(Chalkbeat) - Two influential teachers unions plan to endorse Cary Kennedy in the Democratic primary for governor. 

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Citing insufficient resources, Republican Tom Tancredo drops out of Colorado governor’s race

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

(Colorado Politics) - Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo is ending his bid for the Republican nomination for Colorado governor on Tuesday because he hasn’t raised the money he believes would be necessary to win an expensive election against a wealthy Democrat willing to spend millions on his campaign, Colorado Politics has learned.

“I do not want to win a primary and lose a general, and I fear that was where we were going,” he told Colorado Politics in an interview.

“Even though I’m the front-runner — you make it through a primary, and then all hell breaks loose, you have millions upon millions of dollars spent attacking you, and you can’t respond, you don’t have the resources to respond. It appeared to me the goal — winning the general, that was the main goal — and it does not appear to me to be feasible.”

One of nine announced GOP candidates for governor, Tancredo has led the pack by wide margins in every publicly available poll. He’s run for governor twice before — in 2010 as a third-party candidate, when he lost to Democrat John Hickenlooper but received more than three times as many votes as the Republican nominee, and in 2014, when he came in second in a four-way Republican primary.

Tancredo said he was confident he could win the June primary election but anticipated his campaign would be overwhelmed by Democratic candidate U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, one of the wealthiest members of Congress , who has already spent nearly $1.4 million on is campaign.

“The thing is this, when you look at it and you recognize what you’re up against and you realize the lack of resources you have to defend yourself throughout this process, you say the risks are too high,” Tancredo told Colorado Politics.

“I can’t do this and risk taking resources away from other Republican races. i can’t risk doing this and allowing Polis to win as a result of being able to make me into the devil incarnate because he has the resources to do it, and I don’t have the resources to respond. The risks are too high given where we are and given the financial situation that exists in my campaign. I don’t want to do anything that would turn this state over to a Democrat, especially at this point in time.”

Tancredo said he doesn’t plan to make an endorsement in the primary but will back the Republican nominee.

Polis is one of five leading Democrats running to succeed Hickenlooper, who faces term limits. The others are Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and businessman and civic leader Noel Ginsburg.

Tancredo said his campaign team decided before he announced his run three months ago that he needed to raise $150,000 by the middle of January in order to mount a viable campaign — but when the time came, had fallen far short.

“At the beginning of our effort, two weeks before I ever announced, we had a meeting and talked about my prospects — what we had on my side and what we had going against us. We knew the media — the Denver Post, Channel 9, that group — would be working as hard as any Democrats against me. We knew the Democrats would have a lot of money and that the Republican establishment would not support my effort,” he said. “So we established a threshold — that we would have $150,000 in contributions by Jan 15 and, if we didn’t, we would recognize the attempt was probably futile. Jan 15 came, and we didn’t have anywhere near $150,000.”

According to campaign finance reports filed earlier this month, Tancredo raised $74,480 through the end of the year and had $62,996 in the bank. He said his campaign had about $50,000 on hand this week.

“I thought, holy mackerel, this is not going to get any better. I could not see how we could accomplish the goal with the few resources we have,” he said.

 

 

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Catholic, education groups oppose child abuse reporting bill

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

(9 News / KUSA) - Educators, along with a list of other professionals, are required by law to report child abuse allegations to police. But the statute of limitations for failure to report ends 18 months after the fact

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Bill to incentivize giving to Colorado child care providers advances

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

(Chalkbeat) -  A bill that would extend a state tax credit that incentivizes donations to Colorado child care providers passed the House Finance Committee on Monday and will now move to the House Appropriations Committee. 

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Graduates of early childhood program show greater educational gains as adults

Monday, January 29, 2018

NIH-funded study observes higher attainment of college degrees

NIH/Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Students who participated in an intensive childhood education program from preschool to third grade were more likely to achieve an academic degree beyond high school, compared to a similar group that received other intervention services as children, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers led by Arthur Reynolds, Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, followed the 30-year progress of 989 children who attended the Child-Parent Centers (CPC) program in inner-city Chicago as preschoolers. Their findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics.

"This study suggests that a high-quality, early childhood intervention program, especially one that extends through third grade, can have benefits well into adult life," said James A. Griffin, Ph.D., deputy chief of the Child Development Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

The CPC program provides intensive instruction in reading and math, combined with frequent educational field trips, from pre-kindergarten through third grade. The program also provides parents with job and parenting skills training, educational classes and social services. In addition, the program encouraged parents to volunteer in classrooms, assist with field trips and participate in parenting support groups.

Researchers compared the educational outcomes of graduates from 20 CPC schools to those of 550 children from low-income families who attended 5 other early randomly selected schools in the Chicago area with childhood intervention programs. The researchers collected information on the children from administrative records, schools and families, from birth through 35 years of age.

On average, graduates of the CPC program--whether they took part in preschool only or attended until second or third grade--completed more years of education than those who participated in other early intervention programs.

Among those receiving an intervention in preschool, children in the CPC group were more likely as adults to achieve an associate's degree or higher (15.7 percent vs. 10.7 percent), including a bachelor's degree (11 percent vs. 7.8 percent) and master's degree (4.2 percent vs. 1.5 percent).

CPC graduates who attended the program through second or third grade had even higher educational gains than their counterparts: associate's degree or higher (18.5 percent vs. 12.5 percent), including a bachelor's degree (14.3 percent vs. 8.2 percent) and master's degree (5.9 percent vs. 2.3 percent).

The authors wrote that, to their knowledge, their study is the first to follow participants past age 25, a time in life when many people attain advanced degrees. Their previous research has shown that CPC graduates have gone on to have higher incomes, lower rates of serious crime and incarceration and lower rates of depression, compared to those who participated in other early interventions.

The authors added that successful early childhood programs can also improve adult health. They noted that adults with less education are more likely to adopt unhealthy habits like smoking and to experience high blood pressure, obesity and mental health problems.

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Reference

Reynolds, A.J., et al. A multicomponent, preschool to third grade preventive intervention and educational attainment at 35 years of age. JAMA Pediatrics. Doi:110.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.4673

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): NICHD conducts and supports research in the United States and throughout the world on fetal, infant and child development; maternal, child and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation. For more information, visit http://www.nichd.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov

 

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Coaches in the classroom: How Colorado preschools are upping their teaching game

Monday, January 29, 2018

(Chalkbeat ) - Teacher Sandi Polasek was startled by the feedback she received after a classroom coach watched her hold a reluctant toddler by the arm and guide him to the bathroom. “I want to let you know the way you were holding his arm wasn’t really respectful of him as a person,” the coach told her later.

A longtime child care teacher with a warm personality, Polasek never meant to disrespect one of her small charges. She and the coach talked about strategies for encouraging resistant children to follow her direction and even how to position her hand and body to avoid the controlling arm grip. “It totally reframed my thinking,” said Polasek.

That incident, which took place a few years ago, provides a glimpse into the role one-on-one coaching plays in helping early childhood teachers improve. In a field where the long-term benefits of high quality child care and preschool are well known — but workers’ education and credentials vary widely — it’s an increasingly common tool.

Lynn Andrews, director of strategic initiatives at the Denver-based nonprofit Clayton Early Learning, said very few child care programs in Colorado used coaching when she got into that work nearly two decades ago. “There’s been an upward trend,” she said. “There have been a number of studies that show it can improve teaching practice.”

In Colorado, the coaching trend was helped along by an Obama era grant program — Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge – that awarded the state $45 million for a variety of early childhood efforts. While that money recently ran out, other government, philanthropic, and private programs continue to support coaching for early childhood staff in Colorado and elsewhere. Recently, Head Start, a federally funded preschool program for low-income children, began requiring coaching.

The Denver Preschool Program, which is funded through a city sales tax, will spend about $600,000 on coaches this year — for Polasek and about 700 other preschool teachers, assistant teachers, and child care administrators in the city. While the program is best known for providing tuition assistance to Denver’s 4-year-olds, leaders say improving preschool quality is a key priority and coaching is one way to do that.

One knock on coaching is that it’s expensive compared to other forms of professional development. The Denver Preschool Program, which contracts with Clayton Early Learning and Denver’s Early Childhood Council for coaches, typically pays for six to 12 hours of coaching per person at a cost of $780 to $1,560. The hours are spread out over several months.

Jennifer Landrum, president and CEO of the Denver Preschool Program, said coaching, combined with other quality improvement initiatives, is worth it. “A one-shot training with 100 people in the room is not going to be individualized,” she said. “The coaching really augments that classroom training to help that teacher put whatever they learned into practice.”

Andrews said the high cost of coaching is already spurring a greater use of technology — say, in the form of videotaped observations instead of in-person visits — that could make it more affordable. In addition, she expects more child care centers will begin using in-house coaches, another trend that could lower costs.

Denver Preschool Program officials say besides paying external coaches to work with preschool teachers as they have since the organization’s inception in 2007, they’ve launched a new effort this year to help some Denver child care teachers earn a state coaching credential so they can mentor their co-workers.

Clayton coach Sheryl Robledo, who’s working with Polasek this winter, said 90 percent of the teachers she’s coached like the experience. For the 10 percent who don’t, the problem is usually scheduling logistics, she said. “The biggest thing I try to hit home is I’m not here to fix you,” she said. “You’re not getting this because you’re a bad teacher.”

Polasek, who heads a preschool classroom at a Sewall Child Development Center site in far northeast Denver, said coaching helps her grow professionally. “It’s fun, and I learn so much about myself,” she said. “I love the feedback … that not only tells me what I’m doing right, but tells me, ‘Here’s another way you can do this.’”

Polasek, who has gotten coaching twice previously when she worked at other centers, has a coach this year in part because the preschool where she works will soon be rated through the state’s early childhood quality rating system, Colorado Shines.

While many factors figure into the ratings, preschools can earn extra points when teachers interact well with children — getting down on their level, asking open-ended questions, and encouraging new vocabulary. These are exactly the kinds of goals Polasek has set for herself in working with Robledo. On a recent morning, Robledo watched Polasek chat and finger paint with a little boy named Ethan.

“You’re putting that spoon in and scooping the paint,” Polasek told Ethan as he dropped a blob of yellow paint on his paper. Robledo, who has a master’s degree and the highest of three coaching credentials from the state, praised the banter. “Good parallel talk,” she said, referring to a practice where adults describe what a child is doing or seeing — building relationships and language skills in the process.

Later, in the whirlwind of children playing and a new student visiting with birthday cupcakes, Robledo nabbed Polasek for a 30-second conversation. Robledo had been playing with children in another part of the room and gave a quick rundown of how she had encouraged turn-taking when she and two boys cut up plastic vegetables with a toy knife. “Thank you so much,” said Polasek, who’d asked how to promote turn-taking during a previous coaching session. “Thank you.”

Later, when all the children had been picked up, Robledo and Polasek sat in tiny wooden chairs at the finger-painting table for a 15-minute feedback session. Robledo gave Polasek a list of picture book suggestions and a laminated card to help her remember question prompts she could use with the kids. She also asked Polasek if she liked how the visit had gone, seeing Robledo model and explain techniques as the morning activities unfolded. “It was nice because you were able to show me right then and there,” Polasek said. “I’m a total in-the-moment person.”

 

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The Regional Funders Backing Early Childhood Learning—With a Twist

Friday, January 26, 2018

(Inside Philanthropy) - Early childhood learning is becoming more popular among funders as research emerges pointing to the importance of the early years of a child’s life in overall development and long-term success. While the field is growing in prominence, most money centers on programs that focus on school-aged children in a handful of urban areas.

A coalition of regional funders in Minnesota that has promoted early childhood learning since the early 2000s is breaking that mold in some important ways. It also well predates the recent surge of philanthropic interest in this area.

The foundations’ commitment to early childhood education started back in 2003 with a gift from the McKnight Foundation. Since then, McKnight and the local foundations jointly raised $15.8 million to support collaborative early care and education in Minnesota.

The six foundations’ ties to McKnight go back further than that. In 1986, the McKnight Foundation started six foundations—the Initiative Foundation, the Northland Foundation, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, the Southwest Initiative Foundation and West Central Initiative—to serve the regions of Minnesota outside the Twin Cities metro area.

The Minnesota Initiative Foundations, as they’re collectively called, are independent from McKnight and each other. Stakeholders in each region of the state determine the priorities of their local foundation.

In their focus on Greater Minnesota rather than an urban center, the foundations already differ from many funders working on early childhood education, but that’s not the only distinction. In their most recent work, many of the initiative foundations emphasize access to high-quality childcare.

Funders often overlook access to childcare, even those that focus on early childhood. In Minnesota, the regional foundations don’t have that luxury. Greater Minnesota, like many other places in the U.S., is in the midst of a childcare crisis.

From 2006 to 2015, the state lost about a quarter of its at-home childcare facilities. That translates into vanished spots for about 36,500 children. New and expanded childcare centers made up about two-thirds of that loss, but the centers are concentrated in the Twin Cities and surrounding suburbs.

In Greater Minnesota, counties didn’t make up the difference. In the last decade, the regions outside of the Twin Cities metro area lost about 15,000 spaces in childcare facilities, leaving many families in a bind.

“Childcare issues are dramatically different between urban and rural settings. At this point in rural Minnesota, the problem is availability of any childcare, not choices about quality ratings and costs,” said Diana Anderson, CEO of the Southwest Initiative Foundation. “In our communities, it’s not uncommon for parents to add their names to wait lists before learning they’re pregnant, to drive 30 miles each way to get to their provider, or even split their children among multiple providers.”

Anderson’s foundation put up nearly $500,000 as part of a two-year commitment to find regional solutions.

Low-income and single-parent families are hit the hardest by the shortage. Low-income parents are less likely to have paid parental or sick leave. For single parents, the loss of childcare can mean the loss of a job.

That reflects the trend nationally, where childcare is more widely available, but costly. In 2015, the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive-leaning think tank, found that in 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs more on average than in-state tuition at a public university.

Affordable childcare puts struggling families on surer financial footing. While access to childcare seems like a no-brainer for funders focused either on early childhood education or economic opportunity, few have gotten on board.

Related:

The Ms. Foundation is one of the few national funders working to promote access to affordable childcare. Part of the foundation’s work is to get more funders involved, with the hope that more philanthropists focusing on early childhood education, like the Minnesota Initiative Foundations, will add childcare to their agendas.

“In the early childhood education community, the focus is primarily on the children and the optimal growth of children, and it doesn’t always take into account the conditions and situations that parents are in,” said Aleyamma Mathew, director of the women's economic justice program at the Ms. Foundation. “A child’s life is not just governed by their own biological evolution and learning, but it also matters and is connected to the situations their parents are in.”

The Urban-Rural Divide

The Minnesota Initiative Foundations also deviate from the norm of early education funders in their focus on rural, rather than urban areas.

As early childhood learning gains traction, several urban hubs have emerged as magnets for early education funding. There are some national initiatives pushing early childhood education, but most are focused on a single city.

Chicago is the most prominent of these hubs. Ounce of Prevention, the nonprofit that founded and continues to partner with Educare early learning facilities, is based in Chicago. The nonprofit has attracted millions in support from The Buffett Early Childhood Fund, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Gates Foundation.

The J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation, one of the few funders supporting early childhood education on a national level, is based in Chicago and has focused many of its efforts there. J.B. Pritzker, one of the heirs to the Hyatt hotel chain, has become an activist mega-donor in the space.

Related:A New National Collaboration on Early Childhood, Backed by Pritzker Wealth

There’s also a push for early education in Oakland, led by the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. The foundation put up $3 million last year to get students in the Oakland Unified School District reading at grade level by third grade by working with them starting in kindergarten and first grade.

In Detroit, the Kresge Foundation, based in neighboring Troy, Michigan, recently partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to put $50 million toward a 10-year plan to nurture early childhood learning in the city. Similarly, the William Penn Foundation supports early learning in Philadelphia, the Helios Education Foundation funds the work in Arizona, and so on.

A glance at education media coverage helps explain this discrepancy. Publications like Education Week spend more time reporting the state of urban schools than rural ones. Additionally, many of the philanthropists mentioned above are working in the cities where they’re based, focusing on the need in their backyards before they look elsewhere. The lack of grant money flowing to rural areas has been a recurrent topic within philanthropy for years. We've reported often on the disparity at Inside Philanthropy, spotlighting this problem in regard to specific issues, like healthcare, and in particular regions, like the South. Education in rural areas is just one more area that's been shortchanged by grantmakers.

But this shouldn’t be interpreted as a dearth of need. Students who grow up in urban areas are 10 to 15 percent more likely to go to college than their rural counterparts, according to the Harvard Political Review. The difference is chalked up to funding, transportation, technology and teacher shortage.

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation pegged early childhood learning as an area where it could make a difference. The foundation spends $1.6 million annually on local efforts to sustain strong early childhood programs. The work is accomplished through grants, community coalition support, strategic donor partnerships, educational seminars and workshops, and regional and statewide networking.

“We know how important it is during the first five years of brain development in a child’s life, so we try to help caregivers, educators, families and children get the resources they need to make sure all children have equal opportunities to be school and life-ready,” said Rae Jean Hansen, the foundation’s early childhood vice president.

The Minnesota Initiative Foundations may not be the first funders that come to mind when you think early childhood learning. However, as the field grows, its advocates would do well to remember their work and its inclusion of issues and people often overlooked by philanthropy.

Related:

  

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In election year, Colorado legislators face bevy of issues

Thursday, January 25, 2018

(Colorado Watchdog) - The Colorado General Assembly is back in session with the two chambers split in true purple-Colorado fashion – Republicans leading the Senate and Democrats the House, as Gov. John Hickenlooper, a term-limited moderate Democrat, completes his last year in office. 

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Salaried or Hourly? The Gaps in Family-Friendly Policies Begin to Close

Thursday, January 25, 2018

(New York Times) - As the labor market tightens, employers have been competing for highly educated workers by trying to make it easier for them to do their jobs and also have families — benefits like egg freezing or reduced schedules for new parents. Now, some employers are beginning to address the same challenge for lower-wage workers, starting with paid family leave.  

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Groups sign on to Kent Thiry-backed proposals to revamp redistricting in Colorado

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

(Colorado Politics) - A bipartisan organization pushing ballot measures to change the way Colorado draws its legislative and congressional boundaries announced the support Monday of a number of groups representing rural, minority, business and civic reform interests.

Fair Districts Colorado, a group chaired by Kent Thiry, the CEO of kidney dialysis giant DaVita Inc., said it now has the backing of Progressive 15 and Action 22, associations representing 37 counties in northeastern and southeastern Colorado, respectively; the African Leadership Group, an advocacy organization for African immigrants; Clean Slate Now, a group devoted to campaign finance reform; and Colorado Concern, an association of some of the state’s top business executives.

“There is enormous momentum behind this campaign,” said Kate Roberts, a senior strategist with Fair Districts Colorado, in a statement. “From all corners of Colorado and across the political spectrum, leaders and organizations are joining our effort to fix the broken redistricting system and end gerrymandering.”

Papa Dia, president of the African Leadership Group, said his organization’s mission is to support immigrant families “at each stage of their journey – immigration, integration, and civic participation.”

“As president of the organization, advocating for African immigrants across Colorado, I support and appreciate that Fair Districts Colorado puts the public before the power of any political party,” he said in a statement, adding, “Immigrant communities like mine, much like independent voters, need a voice in this vital process and Fair Districts Colorado will give them that voice.”

Colorado Concern CEO Mike Kopp, a former Senate Republican leader from Jefferson County, called Fair District Colorado’s proposals are an opportunity for the state to quash gerrymandering, the practice of drawing districts to advantage a particular party.

“Colorado Concern is proud to stand with former Govs. (Bill) Owens and (Dick) Lamm and so many respected leaders across the state in supporting this thoughtful plan that would end gerrymandering in our state,” Kopp said in a statement, referring to the Republican Owens and Democrat Lamm, two prominent supporters already on board with the group.

“There are many factors driving dysfunction in our political processes,” Kopp said. “Somewhere near the top of the list is legislative and Congressional seats that are designed very purposefully to be controlled by one party and one incumbent. Presidents from Reagan to Obama have derided the consequences of partisan gerrymandering. Colorado should lead the nation in bringing it to an end.”

The Colorado Supreme Court last month approved titles for Fair Districts Colorado-sponsored initiative Nos. 48 and 50, which rewrite the rules for legislative redistricting and congressional reapportionment, respectively — the practice of redrawing political boundaries every 10 years following the U.S. Census, slated to happen next in Colorado ahead of the 2022 election.

The proposals give unaffiliated voters — a little over one-third of Colorado’s electorate — more of a say in how the lines are drawn and bring more of the process into the open, supporters say, in an effort to do away with gerrymandering and construct more competitive districts.

The official sponsors of the proposals are former state Rep. Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, a former Democrat who dropped her party affiliation in her final term, and Toni Larson, program vice president of the League of Women Voters of Colorado

The Fair Districts Colorado approach has drawn criticism — and competing ballot measures with different sets of rules — from an opposing coalition of left-leaning and good-government groups that calls itself People Not Politicians.

The two groups have been in talks about possible compromises before either heads to the fall ballot with what could be expensive campaigns, spokespeople have told Colorado Politics.

 

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