By MAUREEN HAYDEN
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson is calling for the state to lower its mandatory school age from 7 to 5 and provide funding to every school district to offer pre-kindergarten education to all 3- and 4-year-olds. At a press conference Thursday, Lanane cited what he called “far-reaching benefits” as reason for fast-tracking a comprehensive, statewide early education program.
“The payoff is clear,” Lanane said. “High quality, pre-K programs produce students who are more likely to graduate from high school, earn a higher income, own a home, and less likely to require remediation or commit crimes.”
Lanane, who heads the smallest caucus in the General Assembly, said the timing of his plan’s announcement was intentional. He said the focus in recent weeks on education
issues has been on past problems, including controversies over the state’s A-F school rating system and ISTEP test results that were delayed by months because of computer
“We need to move the conversation forward,” Lanane said.
His proposal would require the General Assembly to allocate significantly more money to local schools to provide early education. The state’s two-year budget plan was approved
in April, and Lanane said it was unlikely that the budget would be changed in the 2014 session. The next budget session isn’t until 2015, which is when the proposal would
likely be taken up.
Lanane said he was floating the proposal now, because “things take a long time” in the legislature. “We need to get this into the marketplace of ideas.”
See tomorrow's News and Tribune for an update to this report.