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Pence Renews Call for Pre-K Pilot

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Surrounded by children at a pre-kindergarten program on the east side of Indianapolis Wednesday, Governor Pence emphasized the need for Indiana to begin providing preschool opportunities for low-income Hoosiers.  He says “the time is now” for the legislature to reinstate a pre-k pilot program.

The Senate Education Committee gutted a bill last week that would have provided vouchers for one thousand low-income children in five counties to attend preschool. They replaced it with a study committee on the issue. 

Pence says the pilot program can be used to help inform the study committee.

“The legislative process, more importantly, is about persuasion,” Pence said, “and we are on a daily basis engaging with members of the General Assembly in both parties to make the case that the time has come for expanding access to quality pre-k programs to some of our most disadvantaged kids.”

But Noblesville Republican Senator Luke Kenley says the pilot program created in the House legislation isn’t well structured, and that isn’t the only problem members of his caucus have with the concept.

“We have a number of people in our caucus who, frankly, they’re not convinced that we need to disrupt the family or that the state needs to take these things over yet,” Kenley said.

Still, Kenley won’t definitively rule out the pilot program this session, noting Pence is pushing hard for it.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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