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Governor Dayton’s Statement on New Round of Race to the Top Funding for Early Learning

May 25, 2011

“High quality early learning and education is critical for long-term academic success for our children.  Today the Obama Administration made its commitment to early learning clear by designating $500 million in funding for new Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grants, and Minnesota will apply.  I have directed Commissioner Brenda Cassellius to prepare Minnesota’s application. 
 
Statewide implementation of a quality rating system is one of the necessary components for states to successfully compete for the Race To The Top early learning awards.   26 states are currently implementing quality rating systems.  Only four of those – including Minnesota - are still in the pilot stage.  Minnesota’s stiffest competition will come from those states that are moving forward on quality early learning initiatives.  The largest and longest term grants will go to states that are the furthest along in developing early childhood education systems that include a statewide quality rating system.
 
My budget included funding that would have continued and expanded Parent Aware, the statewide quality rating system currently being piloted.  That funding would have positioned Minnesota to be competitive for the new round of Race to the Top funds.  However, the Legislature stripped early childhood funding and policy provisions from the education bill I vetoed yesterday.  
 
I encourage the Legislature to think about the future of Minnesota’s children – as well as the millions of federal dollars that are at stake -- as they consider their budget priorities and we work toward a compromise budget solution.”