Nine states that won Race to the Top grants to improve early-childhood education all presented plans that include collaboration across government agencies to achieve their goals. Such efforts often take place in silos, but the “holistic approach is one thing that ties together the nine [winning] states,” said Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, at a White House event Dec. 16 to announce the winners.
Education officials hope the Race to the Top–Early Learning Challenge will spark widespread reform of programs that serve the youngest children – parallel to changes that have been seen in K-12 in response to the initial $4 billion Race to the Top competition.
California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina,Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington will receive four-year grants for their comprehensive plans to increase early-education quality and close gaps, particularly for low-income children, in school readiness.
“At a time when many states have cut early-childhood education programs because of severe budget constraints, the Obama administration is trying to send a signal that investments today in this area could yield big returns for the economic and social well-being of the country tomorrow.”
“Investing in early learning is one of the smartest things we can do,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a White House event Friday morning where the winning states were announced. “If we’re going to be serious about actually closing achievement gaps … nothing is more important than getting our babies off to a good start.”