Ohio is one of nine states to win a share of $500 million in federal grant money to improve early childhood education, the White House announced today.
Ohio’s application for the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge funds asked for $70 million to provide additional and better pre-school education opportunities, particularly for children under the age of 5 who are from low-income families, are English language learners, or who have disabilities or developmental delays.
The other winners are California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Rhode Island. A total of 35 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, applied for the funds.
In its application, Ohio said it planned to used the money to:
- Give parents incentives to select high-quality early education programs;
- Give scholarships to early childhood professionals to help them get college degrees; and
- Partner with the state of Maryland to develop new tests for students entering pre-K and kindergarten programs.
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge is one part of the Obama administration’s early learning agenda. Other components include improvements in childcare and improving the Head Start program, which provides pre-school and other services to low-income children and their families. In a prepared statement, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said:
A strong educational system is critical not just for our children but also for our nation’s economic future,” said . “The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge takes a holistic approach to early education, promotes innovation, and focuses on what it takes to help put young children on the path of learning, opportunity, and success.