The 2017 General Assembly has just a few days to move the needle forward on pre-K funding, and it should do so.
As we’ve written many times before, Indiana is well behind other states when it comes to funding preschool, also referred to as pre-K. Research is abundant and clear that an investment in high quality preschool builds the social and academic foundation that pays off richly as children grow up.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has pitched doubling from $10 million to $20 million the state’s commitment to a preschool pilot program called On My Way Pre-K. And he said in a recent interview with the H-T he would like to do more, but he can’t yet because of the multiple needs he sees in the state budget.
Pre-K programs for low-income children are at the center of the debate. Holcomb’s proposal would double the number of children who could be served from nearly 2,400 to nearly 4,800.
The state Senate didn’t see its way to support the governor on this important issue, though, approving just a $3 million increase along with another $1 million for an online preschool program and $2 million to renew a matching grant program.
Pre-K advocates pushed for significantly more than these two proposals if they were added together, seeking $50 million. They argue that more than 27,000 low-income 4-year-olds do not have access to high-quality pre-K programs.
The pre-K advocates, and count us among them, won’t get nearly as much as they want to drive this important issue forward. Still, it’s important that state lawmakers do all they can as this session comes to a close. They should approve the governor’s request.