-- Rick Rojas – LA Times/LA Now | http://lat.ms/rCVmt7
Photo: The South Portico of the White House is seen after the 2011 National Christmas Tree Lighting. Credit: Roger L. Wollenberg / EPA
December 16, 2011 | 1:16 pm - White House officials announced Friday that California will be among nine states to share in a $500-million grant for early-childhood-development programs, the latest chapter in the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" program in which states apply and compete for federal dollars.
State officials said California will receive $52.6 million, which will go toward improving the accountability system for early-childhood programs. Such accountability, officials said, will help parents evaluate the quality of their options.
The system would grade programs based on the learning environment, teacher effectiveness and parent engagement. Ultimately, officials said, it would help improve the availability of high-quality linguistically and culturally appropriate offerings, in particular aiding younger children, dual-language learners and children with disabilities and special needs.
"In these challenging fiscal times, winning this grant will help parents find and use the best programs possible -- without additional costs to parents or taxpayers," State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in statement. He added that the grant will offer California students the opportunity of a better education earlier and help ensure their long-term success.
California was one of 35 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to submit applications for grant money. The others to receive the funding were Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington state.
After failing to get Congress to approve funding for early-childhood programs, the Obama administration opted to use its "Race to the Top" program for a round of grants focused on such efforts. President Obama said in a statement that "we're acting to strengthen early childhood education to better prepare our youngest children for success in school and in life."
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