One of the most important steps Indiana can take to improve education and eliminate the achievement gap for low-income and disadvantaged children is to expand publicly-funded preschool opportunities.
Every year, thousands of disadvantaged children arrive in kindergarten classrooms woefully unprepared to learn. Schools struggle to help these kids catch up, but so many fall behind and a destructive cycle of frustration and failure takes stubborn hold of their educational lives. The educational and social costs of student failures, dropouts and being ill-prepared for a career are staggering.
Less than a quarter of Indiana children attend preschool and about one in seven don’t even attend school until the first grade – one of the lowest early education rates in the nation. Only eight states fail to provide at least partial state funding for educational preschool programs. Indiana would be the ninth state but for a very small pilot program created just months ago.
If we want students to graduate high school and be college and career ready, that means starting these students along the proper education road as soon as possible.
Please take a moment to send an email message to your state legislators to support creation of a statewide preschool program. Legislative leaders of both parties have expressed strong support, but they need to know business leaders care. This is a budget-making year in the Indiana General Assembly. Now is the time to act to make an investment in early childhood education in this state.
Eliminating educational achievement gaps – starting with preschool and especially for disadvantaged populations – is one of the goals in the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development action plan.