A Look at Pre-K Expansion and New Coalition

GIt 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.

Living in a Global World: International Center Expands Reach

Imagine the lyrics to Madonna’s “Material World,” and insert “global” where the word “material” usually goes. Truly, “we are living in a global world” – and Indiana is a global partner.

The International Center, formerly known as the International Center of Indianapolis, knows all about that fact and revealed its new brand and another major development during its annual meeting this morning at the Conrad Hotel downtown.

The center, a non-profit organization established in 1973, is now working to serve as a “catalyst for a global Indiana,” essentially extending its reach statewide. Simple and sophisticated, the new logo focuses on the letters INTL CTR. With the name and design changes also comes a new website: internationalcenter.org.

During the meeting, International Center Board Chair Rajan Gajaria, from Dow AgroSciences, spoke to the crowd about how the brand gives the center some new areas to focus on – aggressive growth, both geographically and in types of segments catered to; outreach and education of what the center does; and the ability to serve as a catalyst for Indiana’s growth in the global scheme.

Hoosier companies and individuals across the state, not just in Indianapolis, have worked to become global partners, noted Gerry Dick of Inside INdiana Business (who served as emcee for the event), calling it part of the “evolution of Indiana’s ties to the world markets.”

While the center’s brand is now focused statewide, CEO Diane Thomas also strengthened the partnership with the City of Indianapolis by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – essentially establishing a formal relationship – with Mayor Greg Ballard. While the partnership between the center and the city has grown over the past three years, the agreement reinforces that bond.

“This agreement will strengthen our ability to carry out our shared objectives of increasing the visibility of Indianapolis as an attractive destination for international development, international diplomacy and international exchange and making Indianapolis more competitive in the world marketplace,” stated Ballard in a press release. 

The International Center will assist the city with support services in three areas: protocol and visiting delegation services, the Sister City program and through the Consular Corps service.

“This is so important for the future of Indianapolis,” Ballard told the audience.

For more information on the International Center, visit the web site. To view the MOU, visit http://www.indy.gov/eGov/Mayor/pressroom/2011/Pages/January-march2011.aspx.