On My Way Pre-K

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) released its 2016 State Preschool Yearbook Wednesday, which shows Indiana’s early childhood education efforts don’t match those of other states, but recent legislation shows improvements in how the state funds preschool.

Holcomb Signs Indiana Pre-K Bill Into Law

Apr 27, 2017

With little fanfare, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill Wednesday that will expand Indiana’s pre-K pilot program.

The new plan will expand state-funded preschool to 20 counties, tie it to the state’s private school voucher program and include a controversial option for online preschool.

Currently, the $10 million state-funded On My Way Pre-K program serves around 2,000 low-income students in five counties. Expanding preschool access in Indiana has been a key goal of lawmakers this session, including Holcomb.

A Senate Committee slashed funding Wednesday from a House bill that sought to double the state’s preschool pilot program.

Senate lawmakers wasted little time amending House Bill 1004 to mirror their own version of legislation to expand state-funded preschool and offer additional funding to other early learning initiatives.

The second half of the legislative session begins this week, and the House and Senate have two very different bills to expand state funded pre-K.

Both bills passed out of their original chambers and are now being considered by the opposite chamber of the statehouse. Before the session, both Republicans and Democrats supported expanding the pilot program and allocating more money for preschool scholarships for low-income children.

Let’s take a look at these two pre-K proposals and where each bill stand now:

Adding Vouchers To The Pre-K Equation

Rachel Morello/Indiana Public Broadcasting

A pre-K advocacy group made up of Indiana businesses and philanthropic organizations asked a group of legislators on Wednesday to give more funding to pre-K scholarships for low-income families, and legislators pushed back.

The advocacy group, which includes representatives from United Way, Eli Lilly and PNC Bank, among others, testified before the interim study committee on fiscal policy.  The committee will have influence over what is included in the state budget when the General Assembly convenes in January.

New Coalition Pushes To Expand State-Funded Pre-K

Aug 15, 2016
Jeanne Christine / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeannechristine/4677059470

A coalition of business, government, education and philanthropic leaders say they are determined to push state lawmakers to expand state-funded preschool in the upcoming legislative session.

“All IN 4 Pre-K” is a new advocacy group that includes Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, outgoing Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Early Learning Indiana

Lechleiter says the state's pre-k pilot program is not enough to meet demand.

Intiaz Rahim / https://www.flickr.com/photos/chocolatedisco/3442892513

The hunger for preschool across Indiana continues to grow, fueled by initiatives like the state’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s Indy Preschool Scholarship Program. 

Both initiatives are targeted toward low-income families. Momentum is so great that programs are popping up in places you might not otherwise expect them – like the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Jackson County Moving Deliberately Toward Pre-K Pilot

Jul 13, 2015
Jeanne Christine / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeannechristine/4677059470

The final county selected for the state’s pre-k pilot program will launch its efforts in just a few weeks.

Programs in four of the five areas started in January, but in Jackson County, officials wanted to wait so they could make room for more kids, find extra funding and get pre-k providers up to speed.

StateImpact Indiana’s Rachel Morello visited with a few of those providers to see how they’re getting ready for the fall launch.

Erica Gibson / WBAA News

Dusty Miller is a kindergarten teacher at Lafayette’s Vinton Elementary School. His students are learning how to write their names, handle scissors and recognize shapes and letters -- all important skills for kindergartners. 

But Miller’s students aren’t quite kindergartners, or at least, they won’t be until the fall. They’re kids who have no preschool experience, or know English only as their second language, and are at risk of falling behind their classmates when school starts. 

Claire McInerny / http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/

For years, Indiana lagged behind other states when it came to educating three and four year olds. But that’s changing quickly. The state recently launched a pre-k pilot program in five counties, including Marion County, where the Indianapolis mayor’s office also started a scholarship program to enroll more low-income kids in pre-k. 

As dozens of preschoolers run around the fenced in playground at Francis Bellamy, a preschool within the Indianapolis Public Schools system, principal Linda Hogan explains why recess is especially important for these children.

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