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Tennessee not applying for pre-K federal funds

Tennessee not applying for pre-K federal funds
MEMPHIS (AP) — Tennessee education officials say they will not apply for up to $60 million in federal funds for early childhood education because the requirements don’t meet the state’s needs.
Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman told The Commercial Appeal that it’s hard to understand why the state wouldn’t want to get more money from the Race to the Top education grant program that already gave Tennessee $500 million to reform schools.
The main reason not to apply, Huffman said, is that the money can’t be used to expand existing pre-kindergarten services.
“We want to be very careful in the current fiscal environment not to take on additional activities we can’t sustain financially,” Huffman said.
But advocates from Memphis and other places are urging state leaders to invest in early childhood education.
When the Obama administration announced the $500 competition for the funds in March, governors from about 35 states expressed interest. Tennessee was not among them.
Tennessee Rep. G.A. Hardaway, D-Memphis, said he and other early childhood education advocates hope to talk with state education officials next week.
“The one place we can’t afford to cut corners on is investing in our babies,” Hardaway said. “We know that the smartest dollars we spend are at that age,” Hardaway said.
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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com

Published in The Messenger 10.13.11

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