New ‘Race’ focuses on early education

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The latest version of Race to the Top is the federal government’s $500 million Early Learning Challenge, according to Education Week. The competition will reward states that create comprehensive plans to improve early education by setting learning standards and improving the workforce, the report said.

The contest will take up the majority of the $700 million that Congress allocated for Race to the Top-style initiatives this year, Education Week reported. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that the remaining $200 million will be distributed competitively among states that were named runners-up in the original Race to the Top, if those states choose to compete again, according to Education Week. Michigan was not among those finalists.

The rules, eligibility, and size of the Early Learning Challenge Grants have not been announced, according to Education Week, which noted that the $500 million contest is significantly smaller than the original $4 billion Race to the Top initiative.

Still, Duncan said in announcing it that he wants the early education competition to be a “game changer,” Education Week reported.

Education Week, “New Race to Top: $500M for Early Ed., $200M for Round 2 Runners-Up,” May 25, 2011 (Subscription required)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Preschool reports at odds,” Jan. 26, 2010