Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge
$50 million in federal funding is available to improve early childhood education.
“I know we can do this.” That’s the message from Governor Dannel P. Malloy to members of Connecticut’s Early Childhood Education Cabinet working on a $50 million grant from the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services to improve early childhood education. The grant is part of the Early Learning Challenge, a piece of the Race to the Top education-reform competition launched in 2009.
In addressing the panel at the Legislative Office Building today, the governor said it’s important to seek federal assistance to help close the state’s achievement gap and to make sure no child is denied an opportunity to age appropriate education because of their parents’ financial situation. And he said, “We know what must be done.”
“Urban teachers, rural teachers, suburban teachers—they all know what it’s going to take to improve the quality of the product as it comes to our formalized kindergarten through grade 12 program,” said Malloy. “Let’s go after this grant, and design programs to make sure we get it right in Connecticut, and we get it right sooner than later.”
The Governor said, “Anytime we deny some group of children the ability to meet their maximum—to be as good a student, as good a citizen, as good a worker as they possibly can be, in this very competitive economic environment—we are failing that child.”
CEA Executive director Mary Loftus Levine, a member of the cabinet, says educators recognize the critical importance of quality pre-K to the development of Connecticut’s youngest children.
“We need to focus on literacy skills, high-quality instruction and programs, and having highly qualified and certified teachers for our youngest children. Time is not a renewable resource for these children, so the time to act is now,” said Levine.
To win the grants, states are required to submit applications showing evidence of their commitment to a series of reforms, including the coordination and improvement of multiple early childhood programs designed for children from birth through age five.
Rep. Andy Fleischman, co-chair of the legislature’s Education Committee, said legislation (SB 1103) enacted last spring to create a coordinated system of early childhood care laid the foundation that the group is aiming to build upon.
The cabinet’s next meeting is Sept. 22. Applications are due October 19, and winners will be announced before December 31.
For more information visit ctearlychildhood.org.