Pennsylvania is one of eight states invited to participate in the federal grant competition after two unsuccessful bids.
The commonwealth, along with Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey and South Carolina, were picked in the third round of Race to the Top contest after they failed to win funding their first two tries.
If chosen for grants, Pennsylvania and New Jersey would each be eligible for between $200 million and $400 million. Philadelphia, the largest district in the commonwealth, stands to receive a hug chunk of that pot of gold.
The program was created as part of Prez Obama's 2009 federal stimulus plan to encourage states to implement education reform plans and show favor toward the increase in the number and autonomous charter schools, among other criteria.
The competition received such a huge response that Congress earmarked more money in its 2011 fiscal budget for the plan, Reuters reported yesterday. (Read the story here). In fact, the Obama administration has designatied $500 million for a spin-off program, "Early Learning Challenge," which focuses on children from birth to age five and high-quality early childhood education.
Yesterday, District Attorney Seth Williams was one of several speakers who participated in a forum on early childhood education in Washington D.C. Irnonically, the Philadelphia School District has proposed to make cuts to Pre-K, and full-day Kindergarten in order to close the $629 million deficit they stand to face next fiscal year.
Obama is also pushing to create yet another verison in which individual school districts can compete.
Pennsylvania hasn't had the greatest luck when it comes to RTTP. Last year, it was one of 16 finalists in the competition. Philadelphia School District officials practically salivated over the possible $50 million that could have come to them had Pennsylvania won, but to no avail.
For the third round of grants this year, states will vye for a piece of $200 million, which range in size from $10 million to $50 million.
The application period will open in the fall.