Government Offers $500M in State Grants for Preschool
Filed under: In The News
Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the "Early Learning Challenge" at an event Wednesday.
The administration also announced nine finalist states that did not win grants in the earlier, first two rounds of Race to the Top for grades K-12 can compete for $200 million in grants in the next round, ranging from $10 million to $50 million. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina.
The Early Learning Challenge, meanwhile, is aimed at encouraging states to come up with plans that emphasize better coordination, clearer learning standards, and increased access to early learning programs in public schools for low income and disadvantaged children. Race to the Top won't add any testing for preschoolers. The administration says it wants states to eliminate programs that are no more than babysitting.
"We want to dramatically move this needle, and support breakthrough work that really changes the quality of the early learning programs across America," Duncan said.
Sebelius said that the health and financial security of the U.S. will depend on investments made in the first years of a child's life. She said that kids who fall behind by age 5 won't be able to compete for future jobs.
Sebelius says that the administration is taking a "holistic" approach, focusing on kids' health as well as their education.
"By pushing everyone to raise their game, we help to foster innovation across our early-childhood programs," she said.
The event also included an official from the group "Mission: Readiness," a coalition of retired military leaders working to highlight the high ineligibility rates for military service. Retired Army Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender, said poor education keeps people out of the military. She called the Early Learning Challenge an important step "to ensure that an education crisis does not become a national security crisis."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. This article was written by Frederic J. Frommer, Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
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