The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is continuing its call for expanded state-funded pre-kindergarten for children from low-income families throughout the state. In written testimony before an interim study committee, Vice President of Education and Workforce Development Caryl Auslander laid out policy points that involve quality, accessibility and data requirements. She says the chamber is "cautiously optimistic" an expansion will make its way through the upcoming budget-writing session.
Auslander tells Inside INdiana Business an investment will have a positive impact on business.
The primary points Auslander wants the legislature to consider include:
- expanding the pilot program to include more 4-year-olds in the state whose families have low incomes
- spend state dollars wisely
- suggesting providers reach levels 3 or 4 on the Paths to Quality rating system
- accessible to working parents, including near homes and workplaces or reachable by public transportation
- suggesting a mixed-delivery system, which would include providers in centers, public schools, private schools, ministries and homes
- ensure data reporting requirements currently in place in the pilot program continue
- find an "appropriate fiscal number" for the program, noting it’s a major investment, but a "worthwhile one"
Auslander says college and career-ready standards in schools have made kindergarten "more like first grade" these days, so "it is our hope that attending a quality pre-k program will mitigate the high costs of remediation and have students more prepared to learn in their educational career."
The chamber says expanding pre-k is a priority and in the first gubernatorial debate of the year, which focused on education and took place in Indianapolis this week, all three candidates addressed it.
Indiana Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Education and Workforce Development Caryl Auslander tells Inside INdiana Business an investment will have a positive impact on business.