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Sixteen States and D.C. to Compete For Early Learning Challenge Funds

Cross-posted from Politics K-12

Sixteen states, plus the District of Columbia, have thrown their hats in the ring for a piece of the U.S. Department of Education's $280 million Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge fund. 

The applicants are: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont. Check out their applications here

At least three of those applicants—the District of Columbia, Georgia, and New York—clearly know how to write a winning Race to the Top application. They were winners in the state grant competition, financed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, aka the stimulus. 

The applicants will be eligible for four-year grants ranging from $37.5 million to $75 million. The grant size will depend on the state's share of the national population of children birth-through-5 from low-income families, as well as their proposed plans. 

How many winners can there be? As in other rounds of Race to the Top, it will depend on which states have the top-rated plans—the department scores applications and funds the highest-rated applications first. Not everyone will be a winner. 

This is not the first round of the early learning competition. Nine states—California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington state—were winners in the initial round. And five more states with highly-rated applications also received funding: Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

How does this jibe with President Barack Obama's preschool initiative? It is a whole separate program. Congress hasn't officially provided funding for the president's  broader proposal, announced in his State of the Union address. And lawmakers may not pony up the cash anytime soon, since money is tight on Capitol Hill.

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