Connecticut is promising to cut in half the percentage of its students who enter kindergarten unprepared, part of an ambitious early childhood education plan outlined in its quest for $50 million in federal grants, The Associated Press reports.
The state's "Race to the Top" application, submitted this week to the U.S. Department of Education, also says Connecticut is adding 1,000 new state-funded preschool seats for needy children starting in July 2013 -- whether or not it wins the federal grant.
It's also launching a push to reach more young children whose caregivers are family members and friends, and who might otherwise not get the benefit of early learning programs in preschools, licensed daycares and more formal settings.
Connecticut's 286-page Race to the Top application puts it in the running with 34 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico for a share of the $500 million program, in which the winners will be announced in December.
Elizabeth Donohue, policy director for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's administration and the application's coordinator, said Friday that although the proposals are highly ambitious, they are also achievable.
Federal officials have said that would be a key factor, and have hinted strongly that unrealistic promises could sink a state's entire application.
In Connecticut's case, though, officials who worked on the application and its supporters say boosting early learning programs and preparing more students for kindergarten is within the state's grasp if it gets the money to coordinate programs already in operation, fill in gaps where others are needed, and get the best teachers in place.