Education Secretary Arne Duncan got on the phone with early learning advocates today to talk about the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3) competition and what’s in it for children age zero to five. The Department of Education announced the competition’s finalists last week, and some advocates say the list gives short shrift to early education initiatives.
On the contrary, was the department’s message today. Duncan, along with Jacquelyn Jones, his senior advisor for early learning, and Jim Shelton, who ran the i3 competition, highlighted 13 out of 47 finalists that they say included early learning as a focus in their applications. The list includes the obvious candidates, like AppleTree and Parents as Teachers, which I wrote about in a previous post on i3. The DOE also included the Success for All and Knowledge is Power applications on the early learning list, however. The New America Foundation’s Early Ed Watch blog is not quite buying it: For a skeptical look at what these applications said about early learning and how they were scored, check out their analysis.
The DOE officials told callers they were “preaching to the choir” in their concerns that early education hasn’t gotten enough attention. They suggested that they would help “spotlight” early learning initiatives that didn’t win this round, perhaps helping them to win funding elsewhere. The rest of the winning applications, with their scores, will be released by next week, so stay tuned.