Washington State fell short in a competition among states to win new federal money to expand the availability of subsidized preschool, according to state and federal officials who announced the winners on Wednesday.
Washington was one of the 36 applicants for the grants, but was not among the 18 selected.
The grants, totaling more than $226 million, were part of more than $1 billion of public and private investment in early childhood education announced by President Obama during his White House Summit on Early Education on Wednesday.
Washington was well represented at the summit, in part because of Seattle’s successful passage of a property tax levy in November to pay for a pilot program to subsidize high-quality preschool programs in the city.
King County Executive Dow Constantine, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Council President Tim Burgess attended the summit. They were joined by local experts including Patricia Kuhl, one of the world’s leading experts on speech development, who co-directs the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington.
The state’s Department of Early Learning said in a press release Wednesday that while Washington scored well on its application, it faced stiff competition from states with strong preschool programs.
States that had not previously received a grant through the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” program for early learning were given priority, according to the Department of Early Learning.
Washington won a $60 million Race to the Top grant in 2011 to improve private preschool programs across the state.
Only six of the states selected this time were previous Race to the Top early learning winners. They included Illinois ($20 million), New Jersey (almost $17.5 million) and Massachusetts ($15 million).
Washington was eligible this time for federal grants up to $70 million over four years, which would have enabled the state to more than double the number of eligible children receiving high-quality preschool by 2019, according to the Department of Early Learning.