The Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant will focus on efforts to improve and boost early childhood education. Minnesota was one of nine states selected to receive a grant.
"Today’s announcement fulfills Governor Mark Dayton’s promise to utilize a collaborative, community based approach in applying for the grant and furthers the Administration’s commitment toward positioning Minnesota as a national leader in early education reform," the Park Rapids Enterprise reports.
After the announcement, Governor Dayton held a news conference at the Capitol.
Minnesota Public Radio reports:
At a Capitol news conference, Gov. Mark Dayton described Minnesota's award as great news in several ways.
"It's a great day for everyone who cares about the future of our children," said Dayton. "And it's a great day for Minnesota, because it's a day that Minnesota has been recognized nationally, where we should be, as one of the preeminent leaders in the nation when it comes to such important areas as early childhood education."
Minnesota applied for, and will receive, $45 million. Of that amount, $20 million is targeted to high-poverty areas in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Itasca County and on the White Earth Reservation. The rest is designated for oversight and accountability measures, including a new statewide ratings system to help parents shop for quality child care providers.
Minnesota schools have one of the nation's widest racial achievement gaps. State Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said helping children at an early age can help narrow that gap.
"This is absolutely an essential element to us closing the achievement disparities among our children," said Cassellius. "So that we can be sure to absolutely guarantee that promise of our Constitution -- that all children will receive an excellent education and have great opportunities to successfully participate in Minnesota."
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