New York is on its way to the head of the class.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state will compete in the federal program, Race to the Top; The Early Learning Challenge. New York is eligible to receive up to $100 million to improve the quality and access of early learning programs that provide a solid foundation for all of New York’s children.
“A quality education is our promise to every child, and it begins with first-rate early learning programs,” said Cuomo. “Early learning is critical to providing the building blocks for school readiness and student achievement, and helps create a well-rounded and educated workforce that is vital to New York’s future. I commend the Obama Administration for making quality early education a priority.”
The Early Learning Challenge will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards, and meaningful workforce development.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Challenge, a new $500 million state-level grant competition, in May. The competition is designed to encourage states to increase access to quality early learning programs for low income and disadvantaged children.
It is also meant to bolster early care and education programs, ratchet up training and support for early learning workforce, create a new evaluation system and educate parents so that they may make informed decisions about childcare.
New York is one of four states – along with California, Florida and Texas – eligible to receive up to $100 million, which is the largest available grant category. This is based on the state’s share of the national population of children ages birth through five years old from low-income families.
In June 2010, New York was awarded nearly $700 million in the second round of the original Race to the Top competition that set aside a historic $4 billion for states to improve educational outcomes from kindergarten through college.
The New York State Education Department was the Governor’s designated lead agency in that competition. The competition focused on world class standards and assessments, ensuring effective and qualified teachers for all students, utilizing strong data systems and improving the lowest performing schools in the state.