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Nine States Get Grants in $500 Million U.S. Preschool Program

Nine states will get federal grants from a $500 million program to boost education standards for preschool programs, the Obama administration said.

California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island and Washington will receive the funds from the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, a competition to reward states that create plans to set higher standards for preschools and to expand and improve their staffs.

The states were chosen based on their applications and available funds, which will help all early learning programs such as Head Start and public pre-kindergarten.

“Our kids only get one shot at a top-notch education and they absolutely cannot afford to wait,” Melody Barnes, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said on a conference call today.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the “best early learning programs boost student achievement and increase both high school and college graduation rates.”

Duncan said the program is “especially important for low-income students” and that the administration is “serious about closing achievement gaps and leveling the playing field.”

The administration’s broader Race to the Top program has awarded as much as $4 billion to 11 states and the District of Columbia.

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