NC Wins $70 Million in Race to the Top Funds

Dec 16, 2011

The White House has announced that North Carolina is among nine states receiving federal Race to the Top funds for early childhood education. 

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that one of those states, North Carolina, expects to receive $70 million from the $500 million pot.

A considerable chunk of North Carolina’s purse will go toward specialized teacher training.

Robin Britt chairs the state’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. He says that a child’s early years are a critical time for brain development and school preparedness, so having effective preschool teachers is essential.

“Children spend more time with their teachers in the childcare setting than they spend—when you take out sleeping time—with their parents. So, having skilled teachers who are sensitive and understand child development and understand appropriate interactions with a child is not easy.”

In order to reduce the drop-out rate and close the achievement gap, Britt says that all North Carolina children must be ready for school.

“If children arrive in kindergarten and can’t do what the other kids do, then they’ll become the discipline problems. They’ll become the anchors of their class, not because they’re less able but because they’re less prepared.”

Nearly 40 states competed for a slice of the Race to the Top pie, and seven states are still waiting to hear about additional awards for their K-12 reform plans later this month. 

Governor Bev Perdue’s office has confirmed that North Carolina's money cannot be used for expanding enrollment in the state’s Pre-K program.

A judge ruled earlier this year that the state must offer early education to all eligible at-risk four-year-olds. The decision opened up 6,300 additional Pre-K spots at a time when the state legislature slashed Pre-K funding by 20 percent.

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