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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Tuesday, October 16, 2007

IU centers co-sponsor viewing site for nationwide prekindergarten forum

Oct. 16, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) in the Indiana University School of Education and the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community are among five co-sponsors of an Indianapolis viewing site for "Raising the Profile of Pre-K: A National Strategy Session," a free teleconference on Wednesday (Oct. 17).

The teleconference will be from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Indianapolis viewing site is in the offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP at 11 S. Meridian St., in Auditorium II on the fifth floor. A local discussion among Indiana decision-makers will follow the broadcast portion.

The national satellite conference is sponsored by Pre-K Now, a national public education and advocacy organization. Supporters of pre-kindergarten who will appear on the broadcast include New York Sen. and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe; and Christine Quinn, speaker of the New York City Council. The other Indiana sponsors are United Way of Central Indiana, the Indiana Association for the Education of Young Children and the Indiana Department of Education.

"This will be an opportunity to bring together key stakeholder groups and education leaders to further the discussion about the implementation of research-based pre-kindergarten programs in Indiana," said Terry Spradlin, CEEP associate director for education policy. "Participants will be informed with the facts and figures they need to advocate for the implementation of state-supported pre-kindergarten programs statewide."

A pre-kindergarten program educates preschool-aged children (typically 3- and 4-year-olds) with the explicit goal of improving school readiness. Indiana is one of the few states that does not offer any funding for pre-kindergarten. States typically operate pre-kindergarten through their state education agency, even though public schools or private early-care and education programs may provide the local pre-kindergarten services. The requirement that districts offer the programs is generally optional, not mandatory, in most states. Spradlin said pre-kindergarten merits consideration, such as the discussion that will take place in the Wednesday forum.

"While Indiana has been a lead state for the development of world-class academic standards and the implementation of high school reform, we still have a great deal of work to accomplish with our early childhood education initiatives if we have any hope of closing the achievement gaps that persist between different groups of students in our state," Spradlin said.

"A growing number of economic impact studies have documented the financial benefits of pre-kindergarten programs in our country," said Michael Conn-Powers, director of the Early Childhood Center at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community. "The cost-benefit analyses suggest that high-quality pre-kindergarten programs produce economic returns between $4 to $16 for every $1 invested in pre-k programs. These returns are based on program participants completing more education, earning higher wages, having lower rates of incarceration and utilizing welfare assistance to a lesser extent than nonprogram participants."

The broadcast will focus on several aspects of pre-kindergarten implementation, including engaging city officials in building city-wide policies to help pre-k providers and lobbying candidates and current officeholders to make pre-kindergarten a legislative priority. Guests invited to participate in the on-site discussion after the broadcast include state legislators, staff from state agencies, higher education representatives, statewide association groups, as well as members of foundations, area organizations and local education agencies.

Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg, Ind., and St. Mary's Medical Center in Evansville are the only other Indiana sites for the broadcast. There are 125 viewing sites nationwide.