[caption id="attachment_92645" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The goal of the grants is to get more children from birth to age 5 ready for kindergarten."][/caption]

Nine states have won a collective $500 million from the federal government to help make pre-kindergarten and other early learning programs more accessible and better capable of narrowing the achievement gap between those who start kindergarten without any formal schooling and those who do.

California, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Washington state were announced as winners at the White House on Dec. 16.

"Nothing is more important than...

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