Vallay Varro was a founding state executive director. She now serves as the president of 50CAN.

Early childhood education gained new momentum with this month’s announcement of proposed criteria for the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. The challenge is for states to, “promote early learning and development outcomes, implement high quality, accountable programs, and support a great early childhood education workforce.”

Depending on state population, schools have the opportunity to win awards from $50 to $100 million in Race to the Top funds.

Last month, MinnCAN’s Vallay Varro and Art Rolnick of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, wrote that current legislation to encourage quality pre-K could be Minnesota’s last chance at much-needed funding. That legislation would institute a quality rating system for preschools so parents for the first time have clear information about the early childhood education options available to their kids. Consider it: not only would the blindfold be removed from parents in choosing childcare but the entire state education system could benefit.

The federal government chose to incentivize better early childhood education because they know, as we do, that success starts there. Three-quarters of Minnesotans agree that the Legislature should make improving Minnesota's ability to prepare children for school one of its top priorities. We need to turn up the pressure on lawmakers so that they make a deal that includes these reforms, and make it fast. The best way to do that right now in the middle of this government shutdown is to join our Remove the Blindfold Project today.


Image source: Jim Monae/AP/File



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