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Fed awards Wisconsin big education grant

After more than three years of trying, the White House said Friday, Dec. 7 that the Badger State is one of five that will share the $133 million of a competitive education grant to expand early learning programs and improve their quality.

Governor Scott Walker's office said Wisconsin would get $22.7 million over a four-year period as part of the Education Department's "Race to the Top" program. Walker's office said the funding would improve the Young-Star rating system for child care centers, which will help parents of high-risk youngsters find the right care for their kids.

The funding also seeks to get parents more involved in improving their children's early learning and development. Walker said the grant would also help build a service delivery system for early learning programs, involving the state Departments of Public Instruction, Children-and-Families, and Health Services.

The governor's office said the grant dollars will help create more uniform standards for programs like Young-Star, Head-Start, and four-year-old kindergarten.

The Obama White House started the "Race to the Top" program in 2009, offering federal stimulus dollars to states that design the most effective educational reforms. Wisconsin has had several grant requests rejected.