Georgia wins $51 million education grant

December 19, 2013

By Nancy Badertscher

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia has won a second multimillion-dollar federal education grant — one aimed at improving learning for the state’s youngest children, it was announced early Thursday.

The state will receive $51 million over four years to expand access to high-quality child care for low-income families, to increase training for early childhood teachers and to put extra resources into areas of the state where test scores and other indicators show the greatest need.

Sixteen states were vying this year for a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. Six were chosen — Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Vermont, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced.

Duncan said the winning states will be creating “high quality early learning systems” that will “provide our youngest children with the strong foundation they need for success in school and beyond.”

Georgia applied for a similar grant in 2012, but was passed over in favor of states that were publicly rating the quality of their child care centers. Such a system is now in place in Georgia.

The state was awarded another Race to the Top grant in 2010. It targeted improvements in kindergarten through 12th grade, including development of a teacher evaluation system tied to student achievement.

Georgia and the other five new grant winners join 14 other states that, since 2011, have received federal Race to the Top money to bolster early childhood education.

Sebelius said the new grant awards show the administration “is committed to ensuring all children have a chance to succeed.

“An investment in our children is an investment in our nation’s future,” she said.

Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning will administer the grant. Bobby Cagle, who runs the agency, has said some of the grant money will be used to increase access to high-quality child care for children in low-income families, especially children who may be experiencing developmental delays.

Another priority is expected to be a kindergarten entry assessment that will enable educators to better size up the developmental levels of students.