Pence Details Pre-K Funding Decision

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Governor Mike Pence says he decided to pull Indiana from up to $80 million in federal education funding because the money would have required expansion of a pilot pre-kindergarten program before it's been studied. In an editorial, Pence says it is "imperative" the state gets the program right and that will only happen through "generous, thoughtful and careful development." October 17, 2014

Following a decision to remove Indiana from pursuing a federal preschool development grant, Governor Pence issued the following editorial:

Develop Pre-K the Indiana Way

Earlier this year our state made history by approving the first state-funded, pre-kindergarten grant program for low-income families in Indiana. The General Assembly enacted bipartisan legislation to launch a five-county pilot the Indiana way, with $10 million in state funds combined with matching funds from each county. Along with local partners around the state, my administration is hard at work completing the design of the pilot and is on track to start serving thousands of vulnerable children early next year.

Our administration recently decided not to seek federal funding that would have required us to expand our pre-K pilot before it is even up and running. It's important to note that many early learning programs across the country have not been successful over the years. On behalf of the children the pilot is designed to serve, it is imperative that Indiana get this right. Indiana's program is based on parental choice and includes the flexibility and accountability needed to ensure children are in programs that get real results.

It is important not to allow the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state's mission and programs. More federal dollars do not necessarily equal success, especially when those dollars come with requirements and conditions that will not help - and may even hinder - running a successful program of our own making.

An important part of our pre-K pilot is the requirement that we study the program so we understand what works and what doesn't. I do not believe it is wise policy to expand our pre-K pilot before we have a chance to study and learn from the program.

While accepting federal grant dollars can at times be justified to advance our state's objectives, when it comes to early childhood education, I believe Indiana must develop our own pre-K program without federal intrusion.

Our pilot program will give Hoosiers the opportunity to assist some of our most vulnerable children while we examine the merits of quality pre-K education. Generous, thoughtful and careful development of new policies for our most disadvantaged kids is the Indiana way.

October 17, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Following a decision to remove Indiana from pursuing a federal preschool development grant, Governor Pence explained his decision in a message to the members of Indiana's Early Learning Advisory Committee.

"Earlier this year, our state made history by approving Indiana's first state-funded pre-kindergarten grant program. We as a state are working earnestly with local partners to start this important program early next year. Keeping faith with the law enacted by the General Assembly, Indiana will initiate this five-county pilot program with $10 million in state funds and decline federal support, and the additional requirements it brings, for our efforts.

"While accepting federal grant dollars can at times be justified to advance our state's objectives, when it comes to early childhood education, I believe Indiana must develop our own pre-K program for disadvantaged children without federal intrusion. We have made it clear from the beginning of our efforts to advance pre-K education that we must be vigilant as we design the program the Indiana way and avoid the pitfalls that too often accompany untested and unproven objectives in federal policy.

"Our pilot program will give Hoosiers the opportunity to assist some of our most vulnerable children while we examine the merits of quality pre-K education to determine future policy choices. Generous, thoughtful and careful development of new policies for our most disadvantaged kids is the Indiana way."

Source: The Office of Governor Mike Pence