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Lawmakers: Keep a Big Early Ed Focus in Race to Top 2.0

So I'm sure you'll remember that the administration won a big, surprise victory in the final, hardwon budget compromise: Money for a second year of Race to the Top.

But at least part of the $700 million set aside for another year of the big compeititon is supposed to go to help states improve early childhood education programs. (The first year of Race to the Top was all about K-12 schools.)

Now Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and a bunch of House Democratic lawmakers,are asking Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to set aside a "significant portion" of those funds for a seperate competition aimed just at early childhood education. They don't say, specifically, just how much of $700 million they would consider "significant."

The lawmakers want the competition to examine states' plans to build early childhood data systems, coordinated support services, and family and community outreach. And they want to make sure states don't slack on their own pre-kindergarten spending, just because they get a federal grant.

The letter was signed by 43 members. Take a look here.

Why does this matter? Well, Congress controls the purse strings for the Ed Department (and the rest of the government.) So Duncan will have to keep at least some lawmakers happy if he wants a Race to the Top 3.0.

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