Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Pre-K Pilot Program Clears Indiana House

The Indiana House gave its approval to the creation of a $7 million preschool pilot program Monday.

The program is crafted to provide early childhood education using a model similar to the state’s K-12 private school voucher program. More from Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith:

The preschool pilot program would study the feasibility of a statewide preschool program by providing up to $6,800 to low-income families to send their children to a high-quality preschool (as accredited by the state).

The program would only be available in five counties.

Bill co-sponsor Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, says the program doesn’t just make educational sense — it makes business sense.

“The return on investment in high-quality early childhood education ranges from $17 to $18 for every dollar invested,” Crouch says. “Current workers will be able to find and afford quality early care and education, making them more productive employees.”

Some Democrats expressed concern with a provision of the bill that makes all participants in the program eligible for the school voucher program.

But Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, says the issue is too important to hold up on those grounds.

“I just looked at it as state assistance to those who need it most,” VanDenburgh says. “You can call it a scholarship; you can call it whatever you want but the money is going to those who need it.”

The bill passed 92-6. It now moves to the Senate.

While the bill caps the current program’s cost at $7 million, estimates say a full-fledged program could cost $68 million statewide — and perhaps more.

We have more on the proposal here.

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