Indiana

Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Governor Pence Urges State Lawmakers To Restore Preschool Pilot

Gov. Mike Pence advocates for a state-funded preschool pilot program at an Indianapolis preschool.

Brandon Smith / IPBS

Gov. Mike Pence advocates for state-funded preschool at a pre-K classroom at the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis. State lawmakers have scaled back a pilot proposal Pence backed.

Gov. Mike Pence emphasized the urgent need for Indiana to begin providing preschool opportunities for low-income Hoosiers at an Indianapolis pre-K Wednesday morning.

Pence says “the time is now” for the legislature to reinstate a pre-k pilot program after the Senate Education Committee gutted a bill last week that would have provided vouchers for 1,000 4-year-olds in five counties to attend preschool.

Instead, lawmakers replaced it with a study committee on the issue. But Pence says the pilot program can be used to help inform the study committee.

“The legislative process, more importantly, is about persuasion and we are on a daily basis engaging with members of the General Assembly in both parties to make the case that the time has come for expanding access to quality pre-k programs to some of our most disadvantaged kids,” says Pence.

But Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, says the pilot program created in the House legislation isn’t well structured — and that isn’t the only problem members of his caucus have with the concept.

“We have a number of people in our caucus who, frankly, they’re not convinced that we need to disrupt the family or that the state needs to take these things over yet,” says Kenley.

Still, Kenley won’t definitively rule out the pilot program this session, noting Pence is pushing hard for it.

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