SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – California is once again trying to win “Race to the Top” federal funding, this time for early learning programs.

$500 million are up for grabs from the federal government. Assistant Superintendent of the Bayview Zone in San Francisco, Dr. Patricia Gray, said early childhood education is essential, especially for those coming from poor backgrounds.

“As it is now, our black and brown kids go to first grade thousands of words behind in vocabulary,” said Gray.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

She said that deficiency is mainly due to a lack of exposure and opportunity.
San Francisco’s Chief of Early Education, Carla Bryant, said there are lessons to be learned from the previous attempts to compete for federal funding, when California lost out.

“How do we know that the children are getting those pre-reading skills and those pre-math skills unless we have a statewide assessment process,” Bryant said.

David Plank, the Executive Director of Policy Analysis for California Education, said the previous attempts to secure funding were important, even if the state came up empty.

“The Race to the Top was a very good way of providing incentives for states to change their education policies,” he said.

The application period for this next portion of the “Race to the Top” program will open in the fall. Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and South Carolina are also competing for the federal education grants.

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