Those of us interested in reforming public education should urge support from the Democrats on the City-County Council for Mayor Ballard’s preschool funding plan that was delayed recently.
Ballard’s proposal would allocate $25 million over five years to expand a state pilot program to allow children from low-income families to attend quality preschools. This program could directly impact the lives of 3,000 children.
Too many in our city do not have access to a high-quality public education. Any money that can be diverted toward this aim will not just help these students, but will also help families and employers throughout Indianapolis. In Indianapolis Public Schools alone, there are approximately 3,200 first-graders.
Imagine how much more our teachers could provide in those classes with up to 40 percent of their students previously benefiting from the new city and state pilot preschool programs. Imagine how that could translate to gains in our elementary and middle schools over the remainder of this decade; and imagine those students just a few years later in 2028 with better test scores, graduation rates, critical thinking and reading skills, and much better career opportunities.
Education is the last best way we can ensure every neighborhood, family and child can advance. Indianapolis has invested in our future before—Unigov in the 1970s, Circle Centre mall in the 1990s, and sports and the Super Bowl in the recent past. Investment in early childhood education, along with strong reforms at IPS, is the lasting solution for continued growth. We must act now.
Josh Owens, an instructor of economics and statistics at Butler University, is a candidate for the IPS School Board at-large position.