Past Community Dialogues

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Thank you for your interest in the Ninth Annual Community Dialogue. This page has been updated with photos and links from the May 29th event.

Past Dialogues

Contact Vette Tabb

Wheelock College began hosting the Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care in 2005. The event brings together state administrators, providers, policymakers, educators, and many others seeking to improve the quality and effectiveness of early childhood education.

Learn about the past Annual Community Dialogues.

2013 Conference
2012 Conference
2011 Conference
2010 Conference
2009 Conference
2008 Conference
2007 Conference
2006 Conference

2013 Annual Community Dialogue

Raising Our Voices: The Power of Advocacy: The Time for Action is Now! Winning Strategies to Move Public Policies Forward for Children, Families and Educators

Guest Speakers:

  • Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley
  • Former Mayor of Northampton Mary Clare Higgins
  • State Senator Sal N. DiDomenico (Middlesex and Suffolk)
  • State Representative Aaron Vega (Fifth Hamden)
  • Westfield City Councilor Agma Maria Sweeney
  • Najeema Holas-Huggins, Manager of Marketing and Assistant Researcher, Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children
  • Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita, Lesley University, Defending the Early Years
  • Hanna Gebretensae, Director of Early Childhood Programs, Aspire Institute
  • Joelle Auguste, Director, Multilingual Action Council
  • Mav Pardee, Program Manager and Marty Cowden, Associate Program Manager, Children's Investment Fund
  • Amy O'Leary and Emily Levine, Strategies for Children
  • Nancy Wagman, MA Kids Count Project Director, Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center
  • Acting Commissioner Tom Weber, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
  • Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matt Malone


Session 1. Increase to Improve: Advocacy for Increased Compensation to Improve the Quality of Early Education
This interactive dialogue focused on the state of early education workforce compensation advocacy being done to support the field and how you can join the effort. New information on the MA Early Educators Career Ladder was presented, including the release of a report featuring data from the state's PQ Registry.

Session 2. How Market-Based Ed. Reforms are Affecting Young Children and their Teacher
Federal and state education policies have required an increasing emphasis on standards and assessments in early childhood programs. How has this happened and what does it mean for young children? What can teachers do to reclaim play, creativity, and developmentally appropriate education for young kids?

Session 3. Voices in Multiple Languages: The Charge to Educate and Support English Language Learners
More than one in four children under age 6 lives in households that speak a language other than English. The number of children and adults who come from multiple linguistic/cultural backgrounds is rapidly growing. In order to prepare children who are English Language Learners (ELLs) from birth to school readiness, it is essential to focus on their early learning experiences, the quality of their educators and the active engagement of their families and multicultural communities.

Session 4. Building Quality: Advocating for Sustainable Financing for Facilities
The physical environment affects children's health, development and learning, and influences teacher effectiveness and morale. It is a critical, but often overlooked, dimension of program quality. Starting with a statewide inventory on the condition of centers in MA, the fund has built a coalition to support an innovative bond financing mechanism to renovate or construct ECE and OST facilities. How is the campaign going and where will it lead?

Session 5. The Push Towards Universal Pre-K
President Obama and governors across the country are prioritizing early education. Governor Patrick's FY14 state budget proposal increases investments in early education, and positions Massachusetts to be a national leader. In this dialogue, we discussed the important conversation taking place locally and nationally to ensure that children have universal access to high-quality preschool programs.

Session 6. MA Budget and Policy Center
The state budget is about choices: How we as a Commonwealth choose to invest our resources, through our government, to strengthen our communities, support vulnerable residents, and build a vibrant economy. MassBudget's session examines the choices we have made, where we are now, and the opportunities ahead. Participants gained a clear understanding of state budget and tax policy. They learned how past policy choices have created the current fiscal crisis and harmed funding for core state services. They also learned about the state tax system and how it affects different income groups. Attendees can use the knowledge gained through this workshop to participate actively in state discussions on budget and tax policy.

Download the 2013 Program Agenda and List of Speakers

Read a blog post by Strategies for Children about the 2013 event!

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2012 Annual Community Dialogue

"Moving From At Risk to At Promise: Transforming Policies, Practices and Communities to Support Young Children and Their Families"

All children deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. No child should be at risk; all children should be at promise. Access to high quality early education and care is key to meet this goal.

  • What policies at the federal, state and community level are needed in order to help fulfill this promise? How do they support the children, the families and the professionals who work with them?
  • What role will Race to the Top/the Early Learning Challenge Funds play in moving Massachusetts forward to have all of its youngest citizens at promise?
  • How does the desire to support the growing number of English language learners mesh with the current reality?
  • What kind of policies and practices are needed to support all children and all early childhood professionals, both English Language Learners and English proficient?
  • What role do families play in meeting these goals and how can the field and the State support families to give the best possible early education and care options to their children?

This Community Dialogue focused on these and other questions as we heard from guest speakers from national and state organizations and engaged in discussion with them about ways to strengthen systems, policies, and practices so that all children are "at promise."

Guest Speakers

  • Helen Blank, Director of Leadership and Public Policy working on child care and early education issues at the National Women's Law Center, Washington, DC. Download her speech (pdf).
  • Dr. J. Andrés Ramirez, Assistant Professor in Educational Studies and Coordinator of the English as a Second Language (ESL) Intensive Program, Rhode Island College, Providence, RI.
  • Sherri Killins, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
  • Paul Reville, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Goal Statement

The goal for the day was to begin the process of transforming policies, practices, and communities in support of young children and their families to assure that all children are at promise through sustainable systemic change. This included how the Early Learning Challenge Grant awarded to Massachusetts (2012-2015) can serve as a catalyst and how to effectively address the professional development of our diverse workforce in order to achieve the goal.

Download the 2012 Program Agenda and List of Speakers (pdf)

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2011 Annual Community Dialogue

"Developing New Leaders, Alliances and Solutions"

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2010 Annual Community Dialogue

Guest Speakers were:

  • Danielle Ewen, Director, Child Care and Early Education Policy Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)
  • Ms. Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Director, Office of Head Start Administration for Children & Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Jacqueline Jones, Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education
  • Dr. Sherri Killins, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
  • Paul Reville, Secretary of Education, Massachusetts Executive Office of Education

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2009 Annual Community Dialogue

Information to come.

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2008 Annual Community Dialogue

Information to come.

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2007 Annual Community Dialogue

"We Can Get There From Here - A Vision for Workforce Development"

See the 2007 Summary Report (pdf)

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2006 Annual Community Dialogue

"First Annual Community Dialogue"

More than 150 policy makers, community leaders, practitioners and other advocates gathered at Wheelock College to discuss next steps for further developing a system of early education and care for all children in Massachusetts. The conference topic was: Workforce Development for Our Diverse Early Childhood and School-Age Workforce

See the 2006 Summary Report (pdf)

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