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At Work At School

An Afton Partners Blog

All Posts

Strategy and Implementation Planning for System Improvement

The Context: Advocacy leads to legislation Like most states, Minnesota needed a strategy for providing high-quality early care and education to all families. They wanted a system that was equitable, affordable, and accessible to everyone. Coordinated advocacy led to bipartisan support for a law establishing The Great Start for All Minnesota Children Task Force. The… Continued

Strategic Investment to Stabilize the ECE Workforce: Illinois’s Smart Start Workforce Grants 

The Context: Low compensation creates challenges with educator recruitment and retention  Nationwide, early care and education (ECE) staff are drastically under-compensated for the important work they do, with an average wage of about $14/hour. Low compensation means child care programs struggle to recruit and retain qualified staff. When providers reduce their capacity or close due… Continued

Reimagining the School Funding Adequacy Study

Afton updates tried-and-true methods to uncover meaningful insights  In 2023, the Washington D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor of Education (DME) sought to re-examine how schools in D.C. are funded and how the existing funding structures serve students.   Over the past several years, D.C. has made great strides toward adequate and equitable funding, striving to… Continued

IL Gov. Pritzker Touts Early Childhood Focus in 2024 State of the State Address

Earlier today, Illinois Governor Pritzker delivered his State of the State Address, highlighting Smart Start Illinois, which is a historic investment in the state’s early care and education (ECE) system. Smart Start launched last year and is already improving access to quality child care and other critical services for young children and their families, while… Continued

2023 Year in Review and Looking Ahead

Afton had an impactful year in 2023! We are so grateful for the relationships we sustained and new ones formed. Every initiative we have supported has offered an opportunity to strengthen social systems with a focus on justice. We’ve expanded our skill sets to offer a comprehensive set of solutions to drive change in the… Continued

North Chicago CUSD 187: Progress after Injustice

By 2015, the State of Illinois had the most regressive education funding system in the country. When the state put forth its new education funding system in 2018, it calculated each of the state’s ~850 school districts’ funding adequacy targets. North Chicago Community School District 187 had just 54% of the funding it needed to… Continued

Planning for “Re-Entry”: What public school systems can learn from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

This is truly a unique and unprecedented time for society. For us, the two of us in our respective roles in public education, it’s eerily similar to the days and weeks in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. While the scale and expansiveness of COVID-19 is different than Hurricane Katrina, we find some uncomfortable similarities in the immediate situation… there are scarce resources and no playbook, and we have an urgent, moral imperative to provide for students and their families. Beyond the immediate similarities, there are some lessons from the “re-entry to school” in New Orleans that we share below that we hope are useful for school systems now as they are planning to one day “re-open”. Continued

Deriving Value from ESSA’s Site-Based Expenditure Reporting

Afton has partnered with the Illinois State Board of Education since Summer 2017 in developing and implementing its plan to meet the site-based expenditure reporting requirement of ESSA. Currently in Illinois, as in most states, public education finances are reported at the local education agency (LEA) / school district level.  With the implementation of ESSA,… Continued