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.