A Teacher’s Opportunity to be Uniquely Involved with RTTT-Early Learning Challenge

A Teacher’s Opportunity to be Uniquely Involved with RTTT-Early Learning Challenge

Being a Reading Specialist who has worked with inner city early care providers, I was very excited to hear U.S. Department of Education’s announcement concerning the RTTT – Early Learning Challenge. A grant giving each state an opportunity to submit a request for funding a systemic plan that would result in children most at-risk being better prepared for kindergarten.

For the past six years, I have been advocating for building collaborative partnerships between K-12 school systems and their neighboring early learning centers in Delaware. These partnerships or readiness teams would include the adults who are most directly involved in a young child’s preparation for entering kindergarten. By building partnerships, communication and an increased understanding of kindergarten readiness could ease the transition from a possibly unstructured environment into the more structured K-12 instructional system and increase a child’s overall success in school.

The idea of aligning early childhood education with K-12 and establishing “readiness teams” became one component included in Delaware’s application. Parents, early childhood providers, K-12 teachers and leaders, community members, and nonprofit partners will work as a team to target high-need children and their care providers. Recognizing that I have been working with others in writing a proposal for statewide implementation of such an approach over the past year, I was asked to review this component and add any suggestions, revisions, or comments before it was finalized.

This grant was very competitive as Delaware was one of thirty-five states that submitted applications, but fortunately, was one of nine states awarded in the first round. Delaware will receive nearly $50,000,000 to build up present initiatives and roll-out those waiting for a jump start! This is added to $22,000,000 which our state’s legislature budgeted earlier towards Purchase of Care funding and current early learning initiatives.

This is a very exciting time for all involved in increasing the success of children from birth and beyond. I look forward to my continued involvement as we initiate the additional projects in our state’s plan. As a teacher leader and currently a Hope Street Group Fellow, it has been especially rewarding and exhilarating to see what I have been advocating for taken seriously and to be involved with the final draft of such an important application. I am grateful for the support bestowed many Delaware teachers over the years from the Rodel Foundation and Vision 2015; valuing the teachers’ voice as participants at the table whether it be at the state or federal level and believing that everyone can and must do better for Delaware’s youngest learners.

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