As School Districts Compete for Federal Race to the Top Dollars, It's Time to Think Beyond School Walls

May 24, 2012

By Hannah Matthews

This post originally appeared May 24 on Huffington Post.

On May 22, the U.S. Department of Education released draft criteria for its latest competition: the Race to the Top (RTT) District competition. While early education is not prominently included in the draft criteria, it remains an option for school districts to include.

School districts concerned with improving outcomes for children would do well to look to kids' earliest years. High quality early childhood education that includes comprehensive health services and family supports improves the odds for high needs children, making them more likely to succeed in school and in life. As a competition that encourages innovation, RTT offers districts an opportunity to think beyond the school walls to address the comprehensive needs of children.

Among the selection criteria is a priority for the Department to consider whether applying districts have formed a coherent and sustainable partnership with public and private organizations, which could include community-based child care and early education in the district's area.

Such partnerships are to identify "population-level desired results," which according to the draft may span "cradle to career" and could include education, family, and community results.

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