Press Release

December 16, 2011

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski today made the following statement on Maryland being awarded a multi-million dollar U.S. Department of Education Race to the Top Challenge Fund Grant:

“A quality early education makes such an overwhelming difference in a child’s future, as well as our ability to compete in our global economy. I am proud that Maryland continues to be recognized as a nationwide leader in education, well earned through an ongoing commitment to helping all students learn and strong partnerships among administrators, teachers, students and parents,” said Senator Cardin. “The selection of Maryland to receive Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding is a vote of confidence in our State’s education system and our dedicated focus on raising standards across early learning centers and closing the readiness gap. Congratulations to Governor O’Malley, all those who helped make this highly competitive grant possible for our state, and all those who help our students learn every single day.”

“I am so proud Maryland is a Race to the Top winner,” Senator Mikulski said. “Governor O’Malley has dedicated himself to making Maryland’s system of early education and care the best in the nation and it shows! As Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families I believe that early childhood education and care has one of the most profound impacts on a child’s future success. Families deserve access to these important programs that put our boys and girls on an early path to success. With these funds, Maryland can continue to improve an already outstanding system of early education and care by investing in quality rating systems, the development of high-quality standards and assessments for early learning and improvements in the child care workforce. Hats off to Governor O’Malley, the Maryland Department of Education and all the early education and care providers that made Maryland a winner in the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge Grant.”

Maryland will receive a multi-million dollar award as a Race to the Top winner. The total amount to be awarded is not yet available, but Maryland was eligible for $50 million over four years.  The program rewards states that have made a commitment to implement statewide education reforms to improve student achievement. The grants are designed to help winners blaze a new trail in comprehensive education reform by providing resources to improve academic standards and assessments, support teachers and principals, and turn around the lowest performing schools. Maryland was one of 10 winners in the second round of the Race to the Top grant competition.

Senators Mikulski and Cardin led Democratic members of Maryland’s Congressional Delegation in urging Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to support Maryland’s grant application. Their letter of support is available here.

In their letter, the Senators highlight Maryland’s outstanding track record with early childhood education. They note that full-day kindergarten has been extended to all Maryland children and that through Judy Center Partnerships and the state’s network of family support centers, there has been tremendous success with providing comprehensive support to children aged zero-to-five and their families.

Maryland is one of nine states awarded the grant.  The others are California, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington.