Rick Scott, Early Childhood Governor?
Keep an eye on this one: Florida Governor Rick Scott isn't typically thought of as an early childhood guy--he's better known in education circles for ending teacher tenure and his ties to Michelle Rhee. But apparently Scott really wants Florida to compete for an Early Learning Challenge Race to the Top Grant--and is bucking members of his own party to make that happen.
Previously, Florida wasn't eligible to apply for the competitive grants--which award funding to states to build aligned early childhood systems--because it did not apply for funds from the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting program created under the Affordable Care Act, due to the state's involvement in litigation challenging the broader ACA legislation. But last week, at the urging of Gov. Scott, the Florida Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved the state's MIECHV grant, which will provide $3.4 million in funding for home visiting in Florida. Several Republicans on the Committee voted against the grant.
This may open the door for Florida to compete for an Early Learning Challenge Grant. It's unclear how competitive Florida is likely to be in the competition:The state has some key early childhood system components in place, including a kindergarten entry assessment and network of county early learning coalitions, as well as Universal Pre-k, but also lacks some key components and has also been criticized for quality weaknesses in its UPK program. I'm particularly struck, though, by the contrast here between Scott's push to apply for the ELC program and another southern, large-state, Republican governor named Rick, who has adamantly refused to apply for any Race to the Top programs.