On Tuesday June 7th 2016, Superintendent for Indiana state schools, Glenda Ritz, called upon Governor Mike Pence and the Legislature for school reform. Ritz wants Indiana to adopt a universal pre-k education program that anyone would of age would be able to attend. This program would allow all people regardless of income to be able to send their children to preschool free of charge. Getting this passed is going to be one tough task. Glenda Ritz is the only elected official who is a democrat and will have a hard time convincing the Republican Legislature and Governor to pass such a progressive bill.
There are only a few states that do not offer a functioning pre-kindergarten program and Indiana is one of them. Behind on the times, Glenda Ritz is trying to push Indiana into the 21st century. Some of the biggest skeptic of this proposed bill are tea party groups. In short, they believe almost everything should be privatized and government should be as small as possible. Spending taxpayers money on education is frowned upon by such groups. They believe citizen protection and minimal taxation helps preserve personal liberties. Funding this would divert funds from other things taking up the budget or Indiana would have to raise more money through taxation. Along with tea party groups; home schoolers and religious conservatives all are also opposed to receiving federal financial support.
Governor Pence is an advocate for getting children ready for kindergarten and for people of all social classes to be able to participate, he once said. Unfortunately for the kids that he wanted to help he rejected $80 million dollars in federal grants to support a similar proposition. He believed that with the money provided by the federal government that “federal intrusion” would occur. Fearing that he would lose control of this project primarily funded by the federal government.
Glenda Ritz urged on that by using less than 1% of the state budget most children in the state of Indiana can be kindergarten ready. She is determined to get this program on the roll. Ritz claims that regardless of the politics of the matter she will get this program implemented.
“When it comes to disadvantaged kids, the benefits of opening doors of access to early childhood education is very significant and that’s what we’ll focus on…I think it’s important that whatever we do in the years ahead that it’s voluntary, but also that parents would be able to use those resources at a public, a private or even a faith based pre-K program.” Pence said.
Implementation of this program would cost less than 1% of the annual budget and everyone in the state can reap the benefits. Children from all backgrounds will be able to get prepared for kindergarten. Glenda Ritz may have an ally in Pence if she can iron out the financials involved in a program such as this one. For now, tea party groups, homeschooling networks and religious conservatives will have their way.