WA aims for federal dollars to expand preschool

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SEATTLE (AP) -- Washington state has quietly grown its commitment to early learning over the past few years. State officials say that puts the Washington in a great position to compete for new federal dollars for preschool education.

They believe Washington is well prepared to compete for about $60 million under a new federal grant program for early learning. The Early Learning Challenge will be the third round of the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" competition.

Washington failed to win any money in the earlier rounds of Race to the Top, which focused on K-12 education. Many believe that's because it failed to pass a key benchmark the federal government used in determining the winners. Washington does not allow charter public schools and for the most part, the winners all do.