Gregg Introduces Early Childhood Education Plan
TERRE HAUTE – Today Indiana gubernatorial candidate John Gregg introduced his plan to improve early childhood education in Indiana. The plan is part of the Hoosier Handshake, John Gregg's vision for a better and more prosperous Indiana that he has been laying out throughout the spring and summer.
Speaking at Deming Elementary School in Terre Haute, Gregg said, "studies have shown that pre-kingergarten programs increase high-school graduation rates, improve test scores and produce more productive adults. We owe it to our kids to make sure they are as prepared as possible to compete in this global economy, and that includes getting them ready to make the most out of their time in school."
Gregg added, "Indiana is one of only 8 states that spends zero dollars on pre-kindergarten programs, and that is unacceptable. There is overwhelming evidence that early childhood education is one of the keys to success in school, and we need to get moving, investing in the economic success and well-being of our children."
The Gregg plan will do the following:
• Launch a pilot pre-kindergarten program for 4-year olds to help middle-class and working families. Indiana is far behind the national average for 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-K programs [i]. Indiana's federally-funded Head Start programs are currently only available for low-income children, which means that many middle-class, working families – the parents who can’t afford private preschool, but don’t qualify for federal programs – don’t have the chance to benefit. The Gregg plan will launch an initiative modeled after Wisconsin’s successful “4K” program, which will partner with elementary schools, existing childcare facilities, and Head Start Programs.
• Institute a Hoosier State Childcare Tax Credit. 23% of Hoosier children aged four and under are in families living below the poverty line, while the average annual cost of full time day-care for a four-year old is about $8,000. This poses a major barrier to work for low-income families with children – perpetuating the cycle of poverty. The Gregg plan will create a state child-care tax credit to help offset the costs of quality childcare for low and moderate-income working families – just as a majority of other states already do.
• Support the full funding of all-day kindergarten for all Indiana children. Our children are already at a disadvantage compared to the majority of the nation. Allowing them access to more instructional hours through full-day kindergarten is the first step in providing our kids an education that will give them the skills needed to compete in the modern economy. Governor Daniels has done a lot of good work on this issue, and John Gregg will continue it.
"Not only will these programs help our children, but they will also save the state money," Gregg continued. "Studies show that every dollar invested in pre-K programs saves state taxpayers $7" [ii].
"My running mate is fond of saying, society is judged by how we treat our most vulnerable people, especially children. We must do more for Indiana's children-- we cannot allow them to fall behind kids in other states who have access to these programs. If future generations of Hoosiers are to build a more prosperous Indiana, these are necessary steps."
You can read more about the plan here: http://www.greggforgovernor.com/docs/GRE12_025-Early-Childhood-Policy-v2-7.18.12.pdf