Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Gears Up to Seek Federal Aid to Boost Early Childhood Education Education Secretary Announces $250 Million Grant Competition

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

City Gears Up to Seek Federal Aid to Boost Early Childhood Education Education Secretary Announces $250 Million Grant Competition

Article excerpt

In the wake of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's announcement that Pennsylvania can compete for up to $20 million in federal money for early childhood education, the Pittsburgh community is gearing up to seek money to expand quality early childhood education here.

Mr. Duncan on Wednesday visited the Hug Me Tight Child Life Center in the Hill District, where he kicked off a $250 million preschool development federal grant competition, of which Pennsylvania could win as much as $20 million for one year. Mr. Duncan hopes such a grant would be renewable for four years, but the additional funding has yet to be allocated.

Mr. Duncan made his remarks while standing with Mayor Bill Peduto, public schools superintendent Linda Lane and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. When Mr. Peduto met with President Barack Obama in December, he asked the president to consider making Pittsburgh a laboratory for early childhood education initiatives, including universal pre-kindergarten.

At a community forum on early childhood education at the Hill House following the day care center visit, Mr. Duncan, noting Pittsburgh already has the Pittsburgh Promise college scholarship program, asked: "What if you have the Baby Promise here? What if every child has access? What if there's a Promise the whole way through?"

Mr. Peduto believes the city is poised for the opportunity, saying it can become a model for the nation.

Noting the school district has worked in early childhood education for many years, Ms. Lane said, "We believe no one can do a better job than we can."

Mr. Duncan said that early childhood education is "the most important investment we can make," too many children are behind when they start kindergarten and the nation can no longer afford to play catch-up. …

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