Thursday, November 17
US Office of Early Learning and Race to the Top | Early Learning, From the Director, We Play Campaign
Applause, tongue biting, and finger crossing
This month, the US Department of Education proposed a dedicated Office for Early Learning.
I'm thrilled (you'd expect that from a Children's Museum Director). Yet, while I'm applauding the effort, there is a little part of me that's saying: what took you so long?
That's because we as a state, a region, and a museum have collectively done so much already to promote and ensure quality early learning opportunities for our children.
Washington State established the first cabinet level position for early learning in 2006 and adopted a ten-year early learning plan this last year. In 2006, we also established Thrive by Five, a nonprofit, public-private partnership commitment to providing families and caregivers the information and support they need to help their children.
Locally, we launched First 5 FUNdamentals in 2007 to coordinate early learning resources in Pierce County.
Thank goodness we've done so much, so early, because this past May U.S. government announced Race to the Top funding. It's $500 million in grants to states to improve early learning and develop programs for young children that:
- Increase the number and percentage of low-income and disadvantaged children in high-quality early learning programs;
- Create an integrated system of high-quality early learning programs and services; and
- Ensure that early learning assessments are meeting national standards.
The Washington State Department of Early Learning led our state's application for the grant. It could bring up to $60 million over four years to support early learning. We'll know if we are recipients in December.
So, I applaud the U.S. Department of Education, bite my tongue, and keep my fingers crossed for Race to the Top funding!
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