Michele McNeil wrote yesterday in her blog “Politics K-12” that the race to the top continues as “the U.S. Department of Education is poised to award new Race to the Top grants to districts for general education-improvement ideas, and to states for more early-learning initiatives.” With another $490 million in DOE’s arsenal, McNeil tells us where the funds will go as well as that some things are left unclear. She ends her article telling readers that “the department wants to add another priority so that districts would have to address the behavioral, social, and emotional needs of students and families in their proposals.”
The last piece is the most important. When the Department of Education is thinking carefully about and emphasizing the importance of behavioral, social and emotional needs of students and families, we can all sleep better at night. If DOE can actually pull off placing importance on these skills in the early learning years for school readiness and continued success in school, the whole American education system will make a seismic shift for the better. The focus on funding and competition-based “race” to be a superior education system in the global marketplace is a necessity, but it will be the focus on what children truly need to be ready for school, to succeed in school and to meet their full potential as human beings that will matter most to America’s future.