State Senate Democrats Roll Out Universal Pre-K Proposal

By Emma Koch - 21Alive

State Senate Democrats Roll Out Universal Pre-K Proposal

September 13, 2013 Updated Sep 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM EDT

INDIANA (21Alive) -- On Thursday, Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) laid out a plan to enroll students around the state in early childhood education programs. In announcing the initiative, Sen. Lanane cited a number of far-reaching benefits as reason for fast-tracking a comprehensive, statewide early education program.

“The payoff is clear,” said Sen. Lanane. “High-quality pre-k programs produce students who are more likely to graduate from high school, earn a higher income, own a home and less likely to require remediation or commit crimes. With this initiative, we can put all Hoosier children on the path toward success.”

Sen. Lanane described the program as a vital element for facilitating sustainable, long-term economic development and promoting the development of key workforce skills from an early age. The proposed legislation would allow local school corporations to develop their own programs in conjunction with the Department of Education and would rely on a framework developed by the General Assembly utilizing additional funding. That framework would be in addition to resources already appropriated to fund K-12 education and Sen. Lanane noted he was open to debate on how the state could most efficiently fund the program. The proposal would also lower the mandatory school age to 5 and allow schools to create partnerships with early education providers that meet criteria set forth by the Department of Education.

“It’s time to be proactive; 40 other states have recognized the value of high-quality early learning opportunities,” said Sen. Lanane. “By partnering with the Department of Education and incorporating community input, I believe we can rapidly put in place high-quality pre-k programs that meet unique community needs and maximize the return on investment.”

A number of academic studies have confirmed the economic and educational benefits of robust early education programs. For example, researchers examining the economic impact of a long-term, high-quality education program concluded that for every public dollar invested, the examined program generated nearly $13 in benefits. These benefits are the result of reduced expenditures on remediation and grade retention, reduced reliance on social services and reduced costs associated with crime and incarceration.

“You’re talking about a tried and true method for improving outcomes for students across the state,” Sen. Lanane noted. “Indiana is in a position to make a fiscally-prudent investment today that will continue to reap dividends for years to come.”

Sen. Lanane and members of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus will offer legislation creating the state’s early education program during the 2014 legislative session.

Sen. Lanane represents Indiana Senate District 25 includes the portions of Madison and Delaware counties, including the City of Muncie and the southeastern portion of the City of Anderson. For more information on Sen. Lanane, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S25 .

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