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U.S. education chief gives Colorado kudos for early childhood efforts


August 2, 2016
Economics and FinanceGovernance and AccountabilityQuality and CurriculumState & Local
Ann Schimke
Chalkbeat Colorado

Colorado got a high-profile pat on the back Monday with a visit from U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, who lauded the state’s efforts to raise child care quality and improve early childhood systems. He whirled through Denver before heading to Delaware, where he’ll conclude a two-day tour meant to spotlight states that have launched successful early childhood initiatives using federal Race to the Top dollars. The signature Obama administration program awarded more than $1 billion to 20 states. In Colorado, the money helped create a new mandatory child care rating system called Colorado Shines. Launched in February 2015, the program gives parents a simple way to gauge child care quality and comparison shop. It also sets a high bar for providers seeking the top rating, a feat only 12 of the state’s 4,600 providers have accomplished so far.

King started the day with a stop at Mile High Early Learning, a Montessori-inspired preschool in Denver’s City Park West neighborhood, where he joined children in singing songs about sea creatures and eating pretend sushi. Next up was a roundtable discussion with more than two dozen of the state’s early childhood heavy hitters.
Leaders from state agencies, advocacy groups, child care centers and early childhood councils highlighted efforts to create the new rating system, improve data infrastructure and expand training opportunities for child care providers.