The 2012 Race to the Top Fund Continues Investments in Statewide Systems of High Quality Early Education Programs
The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced today that $133 million from the 2012 Race to the Top fund will be available for continued investments in state-level, comprehensive early education reform.
The five communities receiving 2011 Promise Neighborhoods (PN) implementation grants represent well America's geographic diversity, stretching from the hills of Appalachia to the shores of the San Francisco Bay. Among the core elements they have in common is a strong commitment to early learning as a key ingredient for achieving their cradle-to-career goals.
In addition, 14 of the 15 PN planning grants announced by OII's Assistant Deputy Secretary Jim Shelton on behalf of the Obama Administration are also embracing the focused commitment to early learning. "Education is the one true path to opportunity and the American Dream," Shelton noted following the December 19th announcement in Minneapolis, and "the tremendous interest in early learning among Promise Neighborhoods is a testament to the recognition that the path begins in a student's earliest years."
The U.S. Department of Education announced today a proposal to create an Office of Early Learning, tasked with overseeing the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grants and coordinating early learning programs across the Department.
Inventor and artist. A genius of “hip.” These have been some of the words used to describe Steve Jobs – a 21st-century visionary and innovator whom the world lost on the heels of National Arts and Humanities Month. His iPods, iPads, iTunes, Macs, and apps unleashed exciting new ways of communicating and learning for millions of students, who find history lessons coming to life in the palm of their hands, discover their fingertips as virtual paintbrushes, and create musical compositions at the touch of a screen.
The Arts Education Partnership (AEP), along with many others, is asking the questions: “Who will be the next Steve Jobs?” “What will be the next breakthrough to revolutionize our lives?” That’s because at the heart of AEP’s purpose is this question: “How do we harness the potential in every child and nurture a Jobs-like spirit of ‘curiosity seeker’ in each of them?” With this purpose in mind, AEP galvanizes the power of partners across many sectors to promote the essential role the arts play in helping all students succeed in school, life, and work. Unfortunately, as much as arts are a part of a complete and well-rounded education, their place in America’s P-12 education system is still threatened by narrowed curricula, conflicting policies, and budget shortfalls.
The research is clear: Children who are not able to read by third grade and who are not prepared with foundational math skills are at a significant risk to fall behind and not graduate from high school. Recognizing the importance of early learning, the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund made it a competitive priority in its first round of 49 grants in 2010. As the Department’s “Education and the Economy” Back-to-School Bus Tour stopped in Wisconsin, i3 grantee the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee reported on the first-year progress of the Milwaukee Community Literacy Project, a three-prong – school, community, and family – effort to ensure that students are reading by grade three. An “innovation roundtable” was held at the Brown Street Academy Elementary School, one of seven Milwaukee elementary schools participating in the early literacy project.
Thank you for your interest in the RTT-ELC Program, the administration's signature early learning reform initiative. This program will be jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education (ED) and Health and Human Services (HHS).
In order to run a rigorous competition and obligate funds to grantees before the December 31, 2011 statutory deadline, ED will waive rulemaking for this new program, pursuant to its authority in the General Education Provisions Act. However, we want your input on how we implement the major elements of this program so we are posting this draft executive summary of the draft requirements, priorities, selection criteria, and definitions for the RTT-ELC competition on this Web site and we encourage all interested parties to share their comments with us.
A recent evaluation report on the Ready to Learn (RTL) program reveals that young children's learning is enhanced by educational media, particularly when it is used in combination, such as educational television supplemented by complementary media like websites, games, or even print. As a result, RTL, in its latest round of grants, is pursuing the idea of combining media even further by supporting "transmedia" strategies, a term borrowed from digital media theorist Henry Jenkins to describe narrative storytelling that uses different media platforms to advance the story and to create ever-larger fictional worlds of characters and events.
This past Monday, I had the pleasure of visiting a National Head Start Center of Excellence in Baltimore – the Campfield Head Start Center – with the Director of Head Start, Administration of Children and Families, Yvette Sanchez Fuentes. Not only did we take a wonderful tour of the center, but I also had the opportunity to read to a classroom of children! It was a real treat for me to spend time with the pre-schoolers. At one point, I even sang along with them to the old favorite, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands,” and it was so inspiring to see the pure innocence and joy in the faces of the students.
It’s on behalf of our youngest learners that the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are partnering and coordinating our work. It’s also why investments in early learning, such as the Early Learning Challenge Fund, proposed in the President’s FY2012 Budget, are so important. We in the Department are deeply committed to an early learning agenda that supports a continuum of learning beginning at birth and continuing through third grade, and we are honored to work with programs like the Campfield Head Start Center to provide the right start for our children’s education.
From its beginnings, the Ready to Learn (RTL) Program in the Office of Innovation and Improvement has both served America's youngest learners and been a learner itself – of the fast-evolving world of digital communications technology that, in 1995, consisted of television and a nascent World Wide Web. In fact, when initially author
Dr. Melendez speaks to a young student at the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center (ECFLC). Read more about Dr. Melendez' visit to the ECFLC in the Times-Picayune.
I went on my first work trip of 2011 to the wonderful city of New Orleans last week. On Friday the 14th, I spent some time at an early learning school: the Mahalia Jackson Early Childhood and Family Learning Center (ECFLC). Not only did I get to do a tour of the school, but I also was able to spend some time with the Louisiana State Literacy Team, as they were doing a visit of the Center and holding their meeting at the school that same day. Walking around the Center and meeting with its staff and students provided all of us visitors an opportunity to think about what a comprehensive literacy plan starting at birth could —and should – look like. I left the school energized and inspired, and I hope the State Literacy Team felt the same way.
I also visited the Warren Easton High School, which has such a great history behind it as the state’s oldest public high school. The school reopened as a charter school after Hurricane Katrina, but still faced tremendous trials and struggles. The staff members, in conjunction with support from the community, are working hard to rebuild and reform the school to ensure that all its students are on track for academic success.