It is now late summer, and that means that we’ve reached back-to-school time in Indiana. It is a big year in the Auslander household as my youngest embarks on her first year of pre-K. However, there are thousands of less-fortunate Hoosier 4-year olds that will not have that opportunity to join her.
The Indiana Chamber has been supportive of pre-K in our legislative priorities for years and was a champion in promoting the passage of the state-funded pilot program “On My Way Pre-K” in five counties (Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh), as the business community strongly believes that children who receive a quality start to their education will succeed better and need less remediation moving forward in their schooling.
There have been many recent announcements on pre-K during this busy campaign season. The Chamber has chosen to endorse and help lead the efforts with the All IN 4 Pre-K initiative recently rolled out across the state.
This plan focuses on several key non-negotiable points:
- Expansion of the pilot program to include more Hoosier children from low-income families
- Pre-K programs included must be of high-quality – level 3 or 4 of Paths to Quality (Family and Social Services Administration quality rankings)
- Pre-K programs should include a mixed-delivery system of providers: centers, schools (public and private), ministries and family homes
- Work with the Legislature to find an appropriate budget amount to fund the expansion, within the constraints of the budget and revenue forecasts
- Continue reporting requirements put into place with the existing pilot program
According to the Indiana Department of Education, our state spends nearly $32 million a year on kindergarten remediation. The expansion of a state-funded pre-K program could significantly mitigate those costs.
My daughter will succeed in her schooling because my husband and I can afford to send her to a quality program. Other Hoosier students are not nearly as fortunate. The Indiana Chamber is ready to once again make this a priority for the upcoming legislative session.