HUD Secretary Says Cleveland Preschools "Get It."

Kids at outdoor play at Bingham Early Learning Center in Cleveland.

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Kids at outdoor play at Bingham Early Learning Center in Cleveland.

In his last two State of the Union speeches President Obama called on Congress to fund high quality pre-school for every 4 year-old.   Congress has mostly ignored his request but two administration officials went looking for a city that does offer good pre-school classes.    They came to Cleveland.

As children played,  read books,  or assembled puzzles at a pre-school in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood,  HUD secretary Julian Castro praised the way many area organizations are working together to provide educational pre-school.

 
HUD Secretary Julian Castro with Cleveland area school officials.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro with Cleveland area school officials.

“Cleveland gets it.  And I’m encouraged to see the work that is happening here to ensure that these young people get a good education and also to work with the housing authority so that we lift up families that are willing to work hard for it.”

Congress has made $250 million dollars available to the states and Ohio is one of 30 to apply for help.   But in Cleveland the city schools have kicked in money, The county is spending 4 ½ million this year, the Cleveland and Gund Foundations have each given $300 thousand this year, and private companies are making donations.  Special assistant to President Obama, Roberto Rodriguez is impressed.

“The partnership between the philanthropic- the corporate- and the public leadership here is the type of model that we want to highlight  to really help expand the reach of high quality preschool  and move our communities forward.”

Officials say "highly qualified" preschool uses trained teachers and strict standards.

Officials say "highly qualified" preschool uses trained teachers and strict standards.

The CEO of Cleveland schools, Eric Gordon says high quality pre-school is daycare, it’s teaching with trained educators and he says it gets results .

“We’re a K-12 institution.  There is no mission to provide early childhood experience.  If it weren’t the right thing to do I’d be investing $14m somewhere else. It is so important to our long term success that we get our  kids started right.”

The Department of Education will decide in December which states will receive grants for preschools.

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