Missouri and Kansas have joined the race for millions of federal grant dollars for early-childhood education, but the real prize won’t be the money.
Even if they won pieces of the $500 million at stake in the federal Early Learning Challenge, it wouldn’t go far.
The states will win if whole communities recognize the importance of early learning and generate lasting solutions, said Missouri Assistant Education Commissioner Kathy Thornburg.
“This is about building systems,” she said. “It’s not just stirring up the few dollars we have and thinking we can serve everybody.”
Thirty-five states are competing for the latest Race to the Top grants through the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Based on the number of high-needs children in each state, Missouri and Kansas each could receive $50 million to $60 million over four years.
Most states will not win, but Missouri and Kansas will have opportunities to build on collaborative work already under way to bridge a nationally persistent gap.