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Legislators Poised To Eliminate Pre-K Pilot Program

A pilot program aimed at providing pre-k for low-income kids was stripped out of a bill Wednesday. The program was replaced with a mandated study of the issue:

pre k

Photo: Elle Moxley/StateImpact Indiana

Governor Mike Pence championed the pre-k pilot proposal.

Proposed legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House created a framework for a preschool pilot program.  It would have served about a thousand four-year-olds in five counties, with funding to kick in next year. But an amendment, approved by the Senate Education committee, scuttles the pilot and instead creates a study committee this summer.  Senate Republican fiscal leader Luke Kenley – who authored the amendment – says the study will look at several facets of pre-k education, including corporate partnership possibilities, parental involvement and preschool standards in other states.

“The whole effort is to try to put this thing in a position where we can have a product that would be worthy of our consideration – if it should be funded – and then put us in a position next year that we can debate, among all budgeting priorities, as to where we want to spend our money,” said Kenley.

Avon Republican Senator Pete Miller, the bill’s sponsor, says he wanted to see the original legislation move forward:

“There is a need here and it is a vested interest of the state – and I think we’ve done that here – but I also appreciate Senator Kenley’s concerns that we want to address that need in the most efficient and effective manner as we can,” said Miller.

Governor Mike Pence made the preschool program one of the cornerstones of his legislative agenda and even testified on its behalf in the Senate Education committee last week.  In a statement, the governor’s office says Pence looks forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to advance the initiative.  The bill now heads to the Senate floor.

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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  • lastcamp2

    Another swing and a miss for Gov. Pence, who is having his team in the legislature unable to read his signals. First the study of the business tax breaks, now the study of kid’s education possibilities. What say, Kenley, get in there with those “corporate partnership possibilities.” You know what that means. Privatization of pre-kindergartens. Corporations know best how to get the kids to color inside the lines.

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