TRENTON – New Jersey will not receive any federal education grant funds for this year that could have provided millions of dollars in aid to improve the state’s schools.
Like the other states, New Jersey applied for the Early Learning Challenge Fund grants, part of President Obama’s Race to the Top program.
The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants would have been used to implement or improve various early learning and development programs, such as Head Start, public pre-K, childcare, and private preschools.
On Friday, the White House announced that nine states—California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington—will receive grant awards from the $500 million Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge fund, a competitive grant program jointly administered by the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.
“Education must be our national mission,” Obama said in a statement. “All of us must work to give all our children the best education possible. And today, we’re acting to strengthen early childhood education to better prepare our youngest children for success in school and in life.”
Last year, an unsuccessful Race to the Top application cost then-Education Commissioner Bret Schundler his job.
Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan on Friday was critical of the Christie Administration on not turning the tide on securing Race to the Top grants.
“This is yet another lost opportunity for New Jersey’s children,” Diegnan said in a statement. “When coupled with the bungled Race to the Top application and the failed charter school grant process, New Jersey’s schools have been denied nearly a half-billion dollars in federal aid.
“The Christie Administration simply has to do a better job,” Diegnan continued. “Hopefully, they finally realize that all stakeholders must be involved in future applications. Political ideology should never trump the educational needs of New Jersey’s children.”
This isn’t quite the end of the process, as New Jersey, among other states, has also applied for a share of the $200 million to invest in K-12 education reform. Recipients will be announced later this month.