Chesterton Tribune

Gregg calls for early child education program

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg wants the state to begin educating students before kindergarten. Gregg wants Indiana to start a program for 4-year-olds similar to one run by Wisconsin. He also said Wednesday he wants to create a tax credit to offset child care costs and permanently fund full-day kindergarten.

Gregg is running against Republican Mike Pence and Libertarian Rupert Boneham for governor in November's election. Gov. Mitch Daniels is barred by law from seeking a third term..

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 eight 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.

“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,” he said.

—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,” Gregg said.

—Support the full funding of all-day kindergarten for all Indiana children. “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,” he said.

“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.”

State lawmakers have incrementally paid for the state's full-day kindergarten program over the years. Lawmakers approved the temporary full-funding of the program earlier this year after discovering $320 million in misplaced corporate tax collections.


Posted 7/19/2012