by Donna Krache, CNN
(CNN) Today the White House announced that nine states – California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington – will each receive a portion of $500 million awarded in the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge.
Thirty-five states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico submitted proposals in the competition, outlining their plans to increase access to high-quality, early childhood education for low-income families. According to the Department of Education, the number and list of winners were determined by both the quality of applications and the funds available. Each of the winning nine states will receive a different grant, depending on state population and proposals.
According to Jon Schnur, executive chairman and co-founder of America Achieves, the winning plans focus not only on academic outcomes, but on social and other skills important to early childhood education and development. Schnur points out that this is a “watershed moment” because the states are acting on evidence of quality learning practices and their proposals were the result of bipartisan planning and action.
Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan, co-director of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University, says this was an incredible competition with high quality submissions. She cites the announcement today as “extremely significant” because “it says that early learning is important.”