Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, May 27
The Indiana Daily Student


Bills prioritize pre-K education

Throughout the nation, pre-kindergarten education is being hailed as one of the best ways to help children succeed in life.

Indiana is no exception, with some legislators working to make pre-K education more widely available.

President Barack Obama mentioned the importance of pre-K education during his State of the Union Address in January. Last year, Obama said he asked Congress to help make pre-K education available to all 4-year-olds in the country.

Since he made this request to Congress, Obama said 30 states have raised pre-K funding on their own.

According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, 1,332,663 children were enrolled in pre-K education programs for the 2011-12 school year.

In Indiana, Senate Bill 389, authored by Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, would have required all public schools, including charter schools, to offer a preschool education program or to contract with a provider to offer a preschool education program.

The bill is dead for the current legislative session. Rogers said her idea is still alive, though, in House Bill 1004.

Authored by Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, the bill will create the early education scholarship pilot program.

It is intended to help some low-income families afford pre-K education for their children.

Rogers said when the bill comes to the Senate, she hopes to expand the bill to include children of all socioeconomic levels.

She used to be a teacher and said she saw first-hand the difference between children who attended preschool and those who did not.

For each dollar invested in pre-K education, $17 is returned on the investment because these children are usually not dependent on state assistance as adults, Rogers said.

Rogers said only 15 percent of Indiana 4-year-olds are currently enrolled in a pre-K program, which ranks Indiana 45th in the nation.

Tim Pritchett, director of school age care at the Monroe County Community School
Corporation, said pre-K education has a positive ripple effect on children’s education as they continue through school.

The Ready Set Grow program at MCCSC serves students ages 3 to 5. Pritchett said all MCCSC preschools teach their students literacy skills and use well-rounded curriculums.

Pritchett has been working with Bloomington youth, ranging in age from young children to young adults, since 2002.

“I’ve been passionate about serving youth in Bloomington of all ages for a long time,” he said.

Pritchett said statistics show pre-K education helps kids in their later education and said there is a need in Bloomington for more accessible pre-K programs.

State and local programs improve academic readiness for school, according to NIEER.
“I would welcome more kids being in preschool,” Pritchett said. “I think the more kids we can get into pre-kindergarten, the better.”

Joan Bertermann, director of Faith Lutheran Preschool, has been working in the field of early education for more than 30 years.

Bertermann said there has always been a push for early childhood education, especially since more parents started working outside the home.

She said pre-K education gives children a chance to learn, rather than just sit in front of a television.

“The children have a learning-rich environment,” she said.

Bertermann said at her preschool, there are no televisions for the children to watch and the students are always busy playing.

She also noted that her preschool can help her students with their social development.
Betermann said Faith Lutheran currently serves 46 children.

These children will not only receive academic education, but will also learn physical and social skills.

“It helps a child build a good foundation,” she said. “I want the best for the kids.”

Follow reporter Sydney Murray on Twitter @sydlm13.

Get stories like this in your inbox