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Legislators Name Early Childhood Education A Top Priority

The legislature failed to pass a measure last session that would have created a preschool pilot program.

preschool

Photo: Sarah Gilbert (flickr)

Indiana is one of only a handful of states that does not have a state-funded pre-k program.

Leaders of all four legislative caucuses say a renewed effort at providing greater access to early childhood education will be one of the top priorities in the upcoming session.

Last session, House Republicans pushed a significant preschool pilot program, providing money to send one thousand children to preschool.

Senate Republicans dramatically scaled it back, citing concerns about cost. But for the upcoming session, legislative leaders in both parties are renewing the focus on early childhood ed.

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane says providing greater access to preschool helps tackle some of the state’s economic challenges.

“Kids who have the opportunity to have meaningful early childhood education not only do better in school as they go along – they’re less likely to need remediation – they do better in life as well,” he says. “They earn an average of 160 thousand dollars over the time of a lifetime more than kids who don’t.”

Senate Majority Leader David Long says the 2014 session will allow lawmakers to get the ball rolling but notes there’s still much to learn before drilling down to specifics.

“How much investment is going on in the other states?  Are we behind the curve?  How much so?  How is it being implemented?  Is it just with low-income kids or are people embracing it for all preschoolers?  Can we afford that?” Long asks.

Long says while all four caucuses agree on the importance of early childhood education, funding will likely be the greatest sticking point in reaching a consensus.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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