Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Wisconsin Democrats Call on Governor Walker to Apply for New Preschool Grants

Oct 8, 2014
Press Release
Funding will provide more high-quality preschool and early learning opportunities for Wisconsin’s children

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ron Kind (WI-03), and Gwen Moore (WI-04) sent a letter today to Governor Scott Walker urging him to apply for the Preschool Development Expansion Grant.  Wisconsin is one of 36 states invited to apply for a share of $250 million in grants directed to help states develop and expand high-quality preschool programs for children from low- and moderate-income levels.

The Governor’s Office missed the September 11 deadline to notify the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services of Wisconsin’s intention to apply. With one week left until the application deadline, the Governor’s Office has still not indicated that it will apply for the grant – potentially leaving millions of dollars for pre-K education on the table.

They write, “We strongly urge your administration to apply for this grant funding opportunity and allow our state the chance to compete for funding which could strengthen preschool programs for millions of children across our state.”

Wisconsin is eligible for up to $15 million dollars a year in funding for a period of four years. The funding would allow some districts to expand 4-year-old kindergarten to full-day kindergarten and improve the quality of instruction for children across Wisconsin.  Currently, most districts have 4-year-old kindergarten, but the state funding only pays for an average of only 2.5 hours per day.

The letter continues, “In light of reports indicating that the achievement gap among students of color and their white peers is growing in Wisconsin, it is critical that our state exercise every option when it comes to accessing grant funding to support early education initiatives.”

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

The Honorable Scott WalkerGovernor of Wisconsin

115 E. Capitol

Madison, WI 53703

Dear Governor Walker:

 

On August 18, 2014 the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services notified the state of Wisconsin of its eligibility to apply for federal funding through the Preschool Development Expansion Grants. We are pleased that Wisconsin was identified as one of 36 states eligible for this grant, which was based on the state’s current program and the existing need to expand critical preschool services to more children in Wisconsin. The Preschool Development Expansion Grant will award selected states with up to 15 million dollars a year for a period of 4 years.

Preschool Development Expansion Grants were created to support State and local efforts to strengthen programs in states that have been awarded with a Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant. According to the Department of Education, the Preschool Development and Expansion Grants will be awarded to states which have successfully implemented and sustained High-Quality Preschool Programs that reach and service vulnerable children in high needs communities.

The deadline to notify the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services of a state’s intention to apply was September 11, 2014. We were deeply concerned to learn that our state did not notify the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services of its intention to apply for this grant which could bring millions of dollars’ worth of funding to our preschool programs. The final deadline to apply for the grant is October 15, 2014.

We strongly urge your administration to apply for this grant funding opportunity and allow our state the chance to compete for funding which could strengthen preschool programs for millions of children across our state. While the deadline for this grant is quickly approaching and capacity may be an issue, we would also urge your administration to ensure that adequate staff is in place in order to respond to such opportunities in the future. Wisconsin has long been a leader in early learning and we must not miss any chance to expand opportunities for our children.  

In light of reports indicating that the achievement gap among students of color and their white peers is growing in Wisconsin, it is critical that our state exercise every option when it comes to accessing grant funding to support early education initiatives. Providing children with high-quality preschool and early learning opportunities is imperative to ensuring that children, especially those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds, are able to enter the classroom on a more level playing field.

Sincerely,

 

Mark Pocan                              Ron Kind                               Gwen Moore                                                                                  

Member of Congress              Member of Congress           Member of Congress                                                                     

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