TRENTON – The Department of Education has submitted the state’s application for the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge to the U.S. Department of Education.
The Department believes, that as part of Gov. Christie’s attempts to overhaul education in New Jersey, this application would help to improve the quality of programs for over 75,000 low-income children from birth to age 5 in non-Abbott school districts across New Jersey.
An Early Learning Commission was charged with recommending improvements to the quality of early learning and development programs in the state.
This Commission will be chaired by the Commissioner of Education and include the Chairperson of the New Jersey Council for Young Children and representatives from the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Department of Human Services.
The state’s Race to the Top application turned into a debacle last time that led to the state missing out on a chance at up to $400 million and the firing of Education Commissioner Bret Schundler in August 2010.
“We are committed to ensuring that we prepare all students, regardless of zip code, for success in college and career. In order to do that, children must first be ready for kindergarten,” said Acting Commissioner Christopher D. Cerf in a statement released today.
“Through close collaboration with the Departments of Children and Families, Health and Senior Services, and Human Services, and stakeholders from across the state, we have developed a proposal that we believe will truly transform early learning and development programs in New Jersey and will strengthen early literacy skills.
“While the application now is out of our hands and we can’t control whether we win this competition, we can control the steps we take to begin to move this from a plan to reality. We are already hard at work with partners from across the state to lay the groundwork for this new system.”
The Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge application attempts to ensure that over 75,000 low-income children from birth to age five in early childhood centers throughout New Jersey all benefit from a high-quality program. The plan does not create new early childhood programs, but does expand the support and oversight of existing programs serving low-income students across the state.
The Department stated that the application is based around four major priorities:
- Improve the quality of existing early learning programs by expanding NJ’s Quality Rating Improvement System.
- Improve educator effectiveness in existing early childhood programs.
- Increase family access to information.
- Improve use of data to strengthen programs and child performance
The Executive Order that established the state Commission can be found HERE