Indiana should join the vast majority of states in paying for pre-kindergarten programs, Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg said.
Gregg called for a state-funded preschool program as part of his plan for early education he rolled out this week. He says Indiana loses out in competition for families and businesses to other states who have invested in early childhood education.
“This is unacceptable,” Gregg said Thursday, standing outside the Key Learning Community School in Indianapolis. “The evidence is overwhelming that one of the keys to success in school, in childhood education, is to get these kids moving.”
The National Conference of State Legislatures counts Indiana as one of 11 states without a state-funded pre-kindergarten program. All states get federal aid, via the Head Start program, to send low-income children to preschool, but most supplement that spending.
Indiana stands out as an exception in the Midwest, said Steve Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, which tracks pre-kindergarten programs state by state.
The states providing the best early education include West Virginia and Oklahoma, where the state provides schooling for 3- and 4-year-olds in part by supplementing the existing Head Start program, he said.
“They’re not wealthy states, they’re not liberal states. They’re states where they decided they needed to prioritize investments in education to make their states competitive,” Barnett said.
Gregg is running against Republican Mike Pence and Libertarian Rupert Boneham in November’s election.