Watch Live: Duncan and Sebelius Make Major Announcement About Race to the Top and Early Learning

Join Secretary Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius at 10 a.m. ET today for a town hall meeting where the secretaries will make a major announcement about Race to the Top and early learning.

Duncan and Sebelius will be joined by George Kaiser, Founder of The George Kaiser Family Foundation as well as Chairman of BOK Financial Corp. and GBK Corporation; Brigadier General (Ret.) Clara L. Adams-Ender; Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams; and Ralph Smith, Executive Vice President, Annie E Casey Foundation.

In addition to the major announcement, Duncan and Sebelius will discuss Race to the Top and early learning initiatives and the importance of their collaboration on early learning to improve the health, social, emotional and educational outcomes for young children from birth to age 5. The other guest speakers will discuss the importance of early childhood investment in building strong and safe communities, developing leaders who can strengthen our national security and developing an educated workforce we need to win the future.

Click here to watch the archived version of the town hall, and click here for more information on today’s announcement.

22 Comments

  1. This may be a worthy project but how can we spend more money that we don’t have when we just crashed through a preset debt ceiling of trillions of dollars?

  2. This is a very bold and needed initiative for the Administration to undertake for early childhood education.
    It is unfortunate that the general population does not respect and accept the great job that Head Start teachers did in the earlier the years with little support from educational institutions. At this point, most Head Start teachers have the experience and the educational qualities to provide the best quality early childhood experiences for the this countries disadvantaged children and families. The Head Start programs across the nation are monitored, regulated and assessed more that any other early childhood educational program.

    Head Start teachers are now degreed in ECE and with most early childhood programs , funds are not provided to provide them with a decent wage. It has little to nothing to do with unions but the need for effective degreed early childhood teachers to be provided with decent wages. Educational institutions and Head Start programs have the same goals, it just that Head Start was and is designed for low income families.

  3. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to enhance education in the early years for those children and families who do not have full access otherwise. However, having the money run through the State level creates more red tape for the providers directly working with children and families. With the challenges of bureaucracy in government, this opportunity would better meet the needs of the children, parents, staff, and community if providers were eligible to apply directly. This would ensure that the money is used at the level needed.

  4. When developing the eligibility requirements for the Early Learning Challenge Fund, please consider allowing an option for an entity other than the state Departments of Education to apply. If the position of a state education commissioner is not to apply for federal funds even when there are dire needs in that state, then there should be an opportunity for a non-profit organization to apply in partnership with appropriate state agencies. It would be a shame for young children in a state with such high need to not have access to this opportunity. Please examine some options regarding the eligibility requirements.

  5. It would be more advisable to require States to partner with Head Start agencies. These agencies have been held accountable, rules and regulations have been established and constantly being revised to ensure that high quality services are being provided not only to at risk children but to their families as well. These programs are constantly being reviewed, reports are collected by the government and analyzed…if there is already a system in place, why not use this system?

    • No, it would not be advisable to link these monies with Head Start. There is still not enough oversight at the local level for many of these programs.

      States should be required to create an Office of Early Learning with representatives from local and regional early childhood professionals to include: parents, licensed home providers, state officials, as well as Child Care Resource and Referral agencies.

  6. Quality Head Start programs are the way to go, is any of this money going there? Teachers now have to have BS and who is going to want to work for $10.00 or less!! Yes, there are still educational jobs out there that of course pays more. Lets hope if this go through the look for teachers and/or earily childhood educators to start this up not a Senator that knows nothing about young children. I agree that we need to be able to track the outcomes. It can be done.

  7. Race to the top for early childhood intervention is great. I believe that it will make a difference. However, I strongly believe that in the initiative provisions should be included for collaboration with colleges and universities for incorporating essentials for early childhood teacher training which greatly impact the outcomes of children. Also, provisions should included to address parent/family connected training. With out involving parents very little can be accomplished with regards to meeting the needs of children.

  8. Teacher unions are standing in the way of furure movement in early education. Ineffective teachers in Head Start need to go. If a child has an ineffective teacher for two years that child will never get the learning they lost. We need effective teachers and until this happens all the money in the world will not matter.

  9. I agree with everyones comments, we need to make certain that programs use these dollars wisely. The program needs to address issues such as social emotional, disablities, mental health, reserached based assessments and curriculum implenmentation. There needs to be accountability built into the program. Doing away with in-house monitoring will provide the selected programs with creditability. Also, Terra’s comment regarding a black hold is correct; preschool programs need to employ and pay (a decent wage) for degreed teachers. I believe taxpayers will want accountability to ensure that these dollars are being spent prudently.

  10. This is a very bold and courageous move by this administration, especially in such dark economic times as these. Far too long, the welfare of our nation’s children has been based on the activities of their parents (working, in job training, or both), rather than on every child’s need and what should be the right to have a rich early childhood experience. While it is unfortunate, it is very true that many states cannot be trusted to “do right by children” unless very strict guidelines are in place to force their hands. It is hoped that the guidelines for these grants will contain very strict accountability measures. I hope this administration will not allow these funds to be used as a political pawn like the Block Grants have been utilized historically. One question looms in my mind – will these grants require the participation of the existing child care system rather than be a tool that further weakens or dismantles an already fragile and unplanned system of care?

  11. I have a Master’s degree in early childhood education and have been in the childcare field for 30 years. During my entire career, there has been one problem that prevents all childcare centers from being high quality early education programs. That problem is low wages of early childhood teachers in order to keep fees affordable for parents. If this funding solves that age-old problem, it would be the best thing that has happened in the field. Funding to childcare centers to be used in inventive ways to 1)raise wages for early childhood teachers who have AA or BA degrees in early childhood and 2)provide subsidies to income eligible families to pay the difference between the true cost of quality care and what parents can afford – this would make all the difference. Requiring those programs to be accredited or become accredited within a certain number of years would address the accountability issue. Head Start addresses very low income families – but those that are not at poverty level – they fall through the cracks because they cannot afford the true cost of quality.

  12. EDUCATION IS THE KEY! It’s very important that we reach children early, all while providing support to parents in their educational endeavors as well. For the person who asked where the money is coming from the “No Child Left Behind” under Bush’s administration. Also, a child no matter what race, greed or color should be deprived of the best education.

  13. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services needs to monitor and document the extent of how much taxpayer money does go toward Head Start classrooms with non-English speakers. Unfortunately, there are some centers who, while claiming they provide services to Hispanics, instead use the money for everything else but non-English speakers. In fact, they will go out of their way to deny access to non-English speakers while saying they need specific funding intended for bilingual services. Education is by teachers who are not bilingual or bicultural, using parents and inexperienced staff to evaluate and teach, rather than using certified bilingual teachers. Staff at one Head Start told me, “they did not want classes to be all Spanish,” so I was told the word “bilingual” was to be removed from my business cards, provided to me, from funding for bilingual education.

  14. Here we go again, low income families have Head Start and many are choosing not to enroll their preschoolers into Head Start. When are we going to provide relief to the hard working middle class families who make too much to qualify for Head Start but don’t make enough to send their preschoolers to a quality preschool program. Are these funds going to be funneled into programs that meet the state minimums or/and are these programs going to be required to have strong monitoring systems that ensure that there will be some positive outcomes? Ohio had ELI which failed due to the poor monitoring systems and implementation. Before we start we handing out taxpayer money let make sure that the programs using these funds are actually quality programs. Let ensure that selected programs use research based assessments and that these assessments are implemented by third party to ensure reliability and validity. Requiring programs to use outside resources will provide verification of authentic positive outcomes. I have seen too many programs that manipulate data to appear as if their programs are actually producing higher outcomes. There is a need for quality preschools programs especially for low to mid income families. I just don’t want to waste these very valuable dollars on programs who, in the past, have done nothing to improve their programs and will use these dollars to line their pockets at the expense of the very young.

  15. Both the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services needs to monitor and document the extent of how much taxpayer money does go toward Head Start classrooms with non-English speakers. Unfortunately, there are some centers who, while claiming they provide services to Hispanics, instead use the money for everything else but non English speakers. In fact, they will go out of their way to deny access to non-English speakers while saying they need specific funding intended for bilingual services. Education is provided by teachers who are not bilingual or bicultural, using parents and inexperienced staff to evaluate and teach, rather than certified bilingual teachers. In fact, staff at one Head Start told me, “they did not want classes to be all Spanish,” so I was told the word “bilingual” was to be removed from my business cards, provided to me, from funding for bilingual education. What a disgrace!

  16. I completely agree that early education is a critical component to developing learners and leaders of the future. However, unless the funds depend on some specific measureable outcomes in specific time frames – this could be a great concept that just sends money into the black hole of many other educational incentives of the past. Another concern is the lack of teachers due to the extreme cutbacks in pay and employment over the last 5 to 10 years. Any funds seem to be better spent in bringing better qualified teachers into the workplace – those with a real talent and passion for educating our youth. Challenges are great, but without the qualified teachers to implement the “vision” it seems doomed to fail.

  17. Will the States issue RFPs to local programs to address issues such as social emotional and reserached based assessments and curriculum enhancment.

  18. The country is so far in debt, where is the money coming from? How can you spend what you don’t have—disgusting.

  19. Our Migrant and Seasonal Head Start programs serve a significant number of children and families who deal with the additional educational disadvantage of high mobility when trying to achieve educational success. How are you envisioning the MSHS programs across the country will be wriapped into the challenge?

  20. To encourage consistent nationwide development, it is critical to disburse the awards as widely as possible throughout the country.

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