U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-N.C.) announced Dec. 16 that North Carolina is one of nine states to win a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. The up to $70 million grant will allow North Carolina to continue its innovative advancements in early childhood education. Thirty-five states, D.C. and Puerto Rico originally applied for the grant program.
Hagan led a group of her North Carolina congressional colleagues—including Reps. Butterfield, McIntyre, Shuler, Watt and Miller—in supporting North Carolina's application in a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in November.
“We have long understood in North Carolina that our investments in education cannot wait until kindergarten or first grade. North Carolina’s selection as a winner of the Race to the Top—Early Learning Challenge Grant solidifies our state’s place as a national leader in early childhood education,” said Hagan, a member of the Senate committee responsible for education policy. “This grant will allow our state to continue the remarkable progress we’ve seen through programs such as Smart Start and More at Four. I am proud to have joined other members of the NC delegation in supporting the state's application, and I thank all of our North Carolina teachers and education leaders for their service to our students.”
The state will use the funding to meet its goal of ensuring every child in North Carolina is prepared for kindergarten. It will build upon North Carolina’s existing nationally renowned early education programs, such as its quality-starred rating system, to make sure families in high-need areas have access to high-quality early education. The state will also take additional steps to measure the progress of its early childhood education programs and provide professional development support to early childhood educators.
Hagan, who is leading a group of moderate senators in advocating for commonsense principles in education reform, has made education a key legislative priority since her time in the North Carolina General Assembly as a state senator. In October, she included a number of important provisions in the Health, Education, Labor and Pension committee’s legislation to reform No Child Left Behind. For more on Hagan’s work on the bill, click here.