How close is Indiana to universal preschool?

While President Barack Obama publicly declared his support for universal preschool during his State of the Union address earlier this year, several obstacles remain before public early childhood education becomes reality in Indiana.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz told Fox 59 News that preschool and early childhood learning is invaluable.

“The earlier a child gets that language base formulated, the better the reader they’re going to be and reading affects everything in their school career,” Ritz said.

Over the next year, Ritz said she plans on developing a set of standards for preschool education, while further researching what programs already exist in the state and how they are funded.

Before Ritz can ask for the legislature to focus on preschool, though, she said she wants lawmakers to lower the mandatory school age from 7 and fully fund full-day Kindergarten.

“We face the obstacle that we don’t even have Kindergarten in place yet, so I’m hoping that the legislature will see the value of making sure that students attend school at age 5,” she said.

Cost is likely to be the most-cited concern with public preschool.

With the federal sequester kicking in, funding was cut to the federally subsidized Head Start preschool programs in Indiana and the rest of the country.  Locally, Indianapolis Public Schools recently put on hold a plan that would have spent $6.7 million to send 1,400 4-year-olds to preschool.  Concerns about the program’s efficiency were cited by the IPS school board.

Mycole Burnett, a mother of two children who attend Head Start programs, believes every Hoosier child should be given the chance to attend a quality, free preschool.

“Anything that will help our kids prosper on, maybe go off to college would be great,” Burnett said.

5 comments

  • ClanSmokeJaguar

    Please! 0bama and his band of democrats plus union thugs just want to get a hold of your children sooner. The government and public schools can barely educate children in the 1-12 arena now.

  • Guest

    Well personally I use to work for the Head Start in Indianapolis in which is ran by Family Development Services. I use to work at the SouthEast location and I am happy they are cutting some of Head Start they need to take it from Family Development Services they have a horrible Center Director at South East and horrible management at the administration office. I can let everyone know on Fox 59 that they have a high turn over rate as far as employees becasue they do not no how to treat their employees this school year alone Southeast have lost over 17 employees who would want their child in that kind of environment. They need to think about how to treat people especially at Southeast. Good Luck I would not send my child their at all. And to help the budget Family Development Services all ya at the main office take a pay cut and stop giving bonuses to non union employees they gave out over 30,000 to non union who already makes well over enough money.

  • Greg Wright

    Finland's education system is considdred by many as the best in the world. Their children do not start school until age seven. As a former School Board member, I do not see the academic need for universal taxpayer-paid preschool.

    • Norma

      Well said, Mr. Wright. But take a moment to read the post just previous to yours. The errors in that post are a sad commentary on the simple basics of reading, writing, spelling, and grammar. I appreciate your point and I am a strong supporter of a parent's current freedom to make a choice about preschool for their own child. We do not need more government controls in our lives.

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