Deep Dive into Early Years and Blueprint – Conduit Street

The Maryland State Board of Education met on April 26, 2022 to do an in-depth analysis of early childhood education and Maryland’s Blueprint for the Future.

The Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) meet in person at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 26 at the Maryland State Department of Education in Baltimore. The meeting was also available via YouTube live on the department channel.

Of particular interest to the counties was an in-depth, several-hour presentation described as a “101 course” on the Blueprint’s vision for Maryland’s future in early childhood education. Here, we outline that deep dive and outline the way forward for the industry under the Blueprint. (Note that halfway through the deep dive, the Board decided to split the deep dive into two parts over two meetings. This is the first part.)

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury opened the presentation, noting that the early childhood industry was “extremely impacted by the pandemic and we are working hard to rebuild.” He later noted that the child care industry is still “much more serious” with staffing challenges than public K-12 education.

The multi-hour deep dive covered the following topics on early childhood education under the Blueprint:

  • Lay the foundation
    • Starting around 03:36:00 in the video
  • Implementing Early Childhood in Maryland’s Blueprint for the Future
    • Starting around 04:03:00 in the video
  • Workforce
    • Starting around 04:50:00 in the video

The second part of the deep dive, likely next month, will cover the following topics:

  • Programs and Initiatives in Support of Early Childhood in the Blueprint
  • Stabilizing and Rebuilding Maryland’s Child Care System

Lay the foundation

This section of the deep dive focused on the basics of the vision and goals for early childhood education in the Master Plan, including the state’s five-year strategic plan on early childhood education and the six related objectives.

Implementing Early Childhood in Maryland’s Blueprint for the Future

This section of the deep dive has focused on the five main compartments of early childhood education as outlined in the Blueprint.

PreK mixed delivery

Notably, under the Blueprint’s mixed service model, there is a state and local funding component of PreK services, based on family poverty rates, as shown in the graph below.

The expansion of PreK under the Blueprint also includes several incremental levels of structural reforms and regulations, including qualifications for provider establishments and professionals, some of the most important of which are listed below.

Program quality

This part of the discussion explored various state funding programs and tools to improve service quality, including Maryland Excels, Child Care Accreditation Support, and the Child Care Incentive Grant Program.

Workforce

This section has highlighted programs and incentives for hiring and retaining quality child care professionals, including education and training tools, professional development opportunities, and financial incentives , especially after the COVID-19 pandemic strained the industry.

Interestingly, the presentation also included data on the types of professionals active in Maryland’s child care industry, including those with teaching degrees.

Other topics of interest

Notably, the board and the superintendent discussed the challenge of expanding full-day pre-kindergarten in public schools and the facility and financial constraints in this regard. Superintendent Choudhury discussed the role of school construction, access to state funding, and the possibility of changing requirements. State Board Member Sumpter particularly emphasized the need to meet with local governments where they are and work with them to address these challenges when implementing the Blueprint and the expansion of PreK.

The April 26 meeting also included the following discussion topics:

  • An invited presentation on “Achieving Academic Equity and Excellence for Black Boys” from several education professionals across the state;
  • An update on school logistics and transmission rates related to COVID-19; and
  • A presentation on a resolution “Engage in transformative action to create a world-class education system in Maryland”.

The second part of the deep dive into early childhood will likely be presented at the May 24 meeting of the State Council. Stay tuned Duct Street to learn more about this meeting and early childhood education.

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