Early learners in Michigan, Pennsylvania to benefit from federal funding

Posted on Monday, 12/23/2013 6:29 PM
 

There's no denying the importance of high-quality early childhood education and the role it plays in preparing students for successful K-12 careers. In fact, the White House website states that children's brains are at a crucial point in their development during their early years. As a result, any time they spend building their academic, cognitive and social skills before and during kindergarten could increase their chances of school success.

Thanks to the U.S. Department of Education's 2013 Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge, children in the states of Michigan and Pennsylvania are among the latest six states that are set to receive a level of assistance that could increase pupils' chances of achieving academic greatness throughout their school careers.

Millions in educational funding
The RTT​ - ELC is designed to improve access to early learning and development programs of a high quality in the states that receive funding, according to a Department of Education press release. Overall, Michigan will receive $51.7 in grant money. Georgia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New Jersey and Vermont also received funding, bringing the total amount awarded to states to $280 million.

"By investing in high-quality early learning through programs like Race to the Top - Early Learning Challenge, we are able to close achievement gaps, provide life-transforming opportunities for children, and strengthen and build a thriving middle class," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement.

Excitement in winning states
Officials in states that received RTT​ - ELC funding are understandably excited about what the money will mean for the quality of early childhood education their states are able to provide. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett is among these individuals, and spoke about some of the initiatives the state will be able to fund using the grant in a press release. They include establishing 50 local Early Childhood Education Community Innovation Zones and connecting more early learning educators to professional development.

"These initiatives further solidify my administration's strong commitment to early childhood education and the need to ensure that students are provided with quality learning opportunities," Corbett said. "I am pleased that Pennsylvania has been awarded this grant to continue investing in our students to ensure their future success."

Meanwhile, in Michigan, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan is optimistic about what the grant will mean for children from low-income families. Although the money won't eliminate youth poverty in Michigan, it has the potential to provide the type of early intervention at-risk kids need, said Flanagan, as quoted by the Detroit Free Press.

Whether educators use the funding their states receive to cover the cost of classroom resources, such as student software, or professional development, it's clear that young pupils stand to benefit.

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