September Newsletter

Subscribe to this Early Learning NewsletterEarly Learning at ED; Working to improve outcomes for all children from birth through third grade September 2013

What an exciting time to be working on early learning!  I am so pleased to be here at the Department of Education and to follow in the footsteps of Jacqueline Jones and Barbara Bowman, and to work in close collaboration with our partners at HHS.

The first term of the Obama Administration saw significant investments in early learning, and we are poised to continue that focus on our youngest learners in the second term.  I bring a wide background in early education to this position – special education, state-funded preschool, home visiting, and Head Start – and a genuine desire to “get the job done.” But I’ll need all of your support and help. 

Last week, our nation reflected upon the historic 1963 March on Washington and the lessons instilled upon our nation by Martin Luther King, Jr. and those who fought for justice.  King once said, “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?”  Let us all answer that question with our actions by working tirelessly so that all our children have an opportunity to succeed in school and in life.

 Toward that end, we are so excited to announce, with our partners at HHS, a third round of the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge competition to support state systems of early learning to improve the quality of programs and ensure more children enter kindergarten prepared.  See the “What’s New” section of our newsletter for more information. 

I’m so pleased to be a part of an incredible effort with the Administration, business leaders, philanthropy and community advocates, law enforcement, parents , and a strong team here in the Office of Early Learning in uniting around President Obama’s proposal for investing in early education.  With three granddaughters, one each in preschool, kindergarten and third grade, I am reminded every day of the importance of this time of life.  I pledge to work every day to ensure that all our nation’s children have the opportunities to participate in high-quality early learning programs just like Ella, Clara and Zayla.


Preschool for All

preschool for all

It’s back-to-school time, which means that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and senior ED officials are hitting the road once again for the Department’s annual back-to-school bus tour. This year’s tour, themed Strong Start, Bright Future with a focus on early learning and President Obama’s Preschool for All proposal, will run September 9-13 and includes visits to states throughout the Southwest with stops in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, and California. Follow the bus tour at or Twitter hashtag #edtour13 or sign up to receive Strong Start, Bright Future tour updates in your email inbox. Secretary Duncan will hold two early learning town hall events: One with OESE Assistant Secretary Deb Delisle on September 9th in Santa Fe, NM and another with Office of Early Learning Deputy Assistant Secretary Libby Doggett on September 12th in Phoenix, AZ.  If you are interested in attending, please sign up at



For information regarding Race to the Top- Early Learning Challenge states and the FY11 Scopes of Work, please click here.

program spotlifht
RTT ELC Spotlight

Maryland’s RTT-ELC team has begun implementation of 10 thematic projects that break down into 25 activities that are designed to improve the school readiness results from 81 percent in 2010 to 92 percent in 2015, which is the last year of the grant. In addition, many of the activities target reducing the readiness gap for low income children, English language learners, and young children with disabilities. Read more about Maryland’s progress in their Annual Performance Review and on their website.

Early Learning at ED


The Ready-to-Learn Television Grant Program provides educational opportunities for young learners through innovative technology. The three current grantees use funds to develop and deliver high-quality, age-appropriate, educational content to increase the early literacy and mathematics skills of young children age two through eight years old.

Institute of Medicine



 An Institute of Medicine (IOM) - National Research Council (NCR) committee will examine, synthesize, and analyze the science on children’s health, development, and learning from birth to age 8 in order to issue recommendations for preparing a workforce that can seamlessly support children’s health, development, learning, and school success from birth to age 8. Sponsoring partners on the 18-month consensus study, The Science of Children Birth to Age 8: Deepening and Broadening the Foundation for Success, include the Administration for Children and Families, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Education, and philanthropic organizations.  Sign-up to find out more about public meetings and get other updates.

Video Contest



The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) and Young Invincibles launched the Healthy Young America video contest to encourage young people to get health insurance and take advantage of the new options available to them under the health care law. Submit a video and compete to win from a prize pool of up to $30,000 – and over 100 prizes. Better yet, enter the contest and hope your video goes viral! 



The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says it will cost $241,080 to raise a child born in 2012, from birth to age 18, according to their report, Expenditures on Children by Families.  Estimate how much it will cost you annually by using the USDA’s Cost of Raising a Child Calculator.




The Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) Directory of Program Services provides an overview of the agency’s programs and services designed to enhance present opportunities and future prospects for children, families and communities across America.



The OSEP-funded Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center is focused on improving State early intervention and preschool special education service systems, increasing the implementation of effective practices, and enhancing the outcomes of these programs for young children with disabilities and their families. The ECTA Center is currently working with six partner States to develop a systems framework for high quality, effective, and efficient Part C and Section 619 programs. More information about the systems framework as well as resources on early intervention and preschool special education for administrators, educators, and families can be found at

whats new





The Obama Administration released the final application for the second Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) competition, which will provide approximately $280 million in state-level competitive grants to improve the quality of early learning and development programs and close the educational gaps for children with high needs. Grant awards will range from $37.5 million up to $75 million, depending on the state’s share of the national population of children from low-income families birth through five-years-old and their proposed plans.  Applications are due on October 16, and winners will be announced in December.  (Note: Invitations for a technical assistance overview webinar on September 4 and a technical assistance planning workshop on September 10 will be made available through state governor’s offices)  The September 10 workshop will be broadcast via live streaming for the public.

John Pepper

John Pepper, Former CEO Procter and Gamble

As a leader in the business community, why do you believe high-quality early learning is important to our nation?

I have been advocating for early learning for over 25 years. I believe high-quality early learning is vital to the future of the nation. We have at least 1 out of 3 children who are entering school unprepared to learn and are leaving school without the skills to succeed in the world. What happens to a young person in the first 5 years of their life is important to their success in school. If students do not reach the end of 3rd grade reading goal, we also understand they are more likely to drop out. The cost of the intervention is more than paid out by the cost we no longer incur because of children dropping out and growing up to get good careers. Business men and women think investing in early learning is strategically important to our country.

What can business leaders do in their communities to promote high quality early learning?

Business leaders can do many things in their own communities. They can work at the State level by speaking with legislators. They can also provide funding. Locally business leaders can work with different organizations such as United Way or Success by 6 by participating on their boards to advocate, persuade, and assist the organization to reach all children who need it.  Business leaders can also talk to fellow business people to share their own motivation behind their involvement in early learning advocacy.

How do you think the President’s proposal to provide high-quality preschool for all four-year olds will help our economy?

The President’s proposal is a catalyst to provide resources at both state and local levels. I also see the federal government establishing standards of quality, even with flexibility within each State.

Business people are involved in at the federal level with education because of Secretary Duncan. He is open-minded to what will work best.  


Do you want more information about the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Early Learning? Sign up for the OEL listserv here!

FREE U.S. Department of Education Publications. Order Here!


A new Statewide Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) Issues Brief explores the journeys of seven states as they work to examine and share Head Start data, both among Head Start agencies and with state agency partners.



The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences releases a report of the National Household Education Surveys Program of 2012. The Early Childhood Program Participation Survey collected data on children’s participation in relative care, nonrelative care, and center-based care arrangements. It also collected information from parents about the main reason for choosing care, what factors were important to parents when choosing a care arrangement, and parents’ participation in various learning activities with their children.




As legislation moves forward around pre-K funding, it is important to understand Head Start’s role in the mixed delivery systems states already have or will design for pre-K expansion. National Head Start Association (NHSA) has prepared the Policy Report, Partners for Success: Case Studies of Collaboration Between Head Start and Pre-K.