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(Shhhhh ... don't tell Indiana.)
The state received a notice early this month that it again earned a failing grade for educating its preschool children.
Because it doesn't.
Indiana's top education officials only recently realized, apparently, that children of kindergarten age can and should be learning, if, that is, the kids want to walk into their first day of first grade without looking, well, uneducated.
The National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University issued May 4 an annual survey of preschool programs titled "The State of Preschool 2009." In it, Indiana "once again made the list of the 12 worst states for pre-K because it had no program in the 2008-09 school year," according to a news release announcing the survey update.
The 11 other states not providing preschool education are Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
"Indiana's preschool children, particularly those from lower- and middle-income families, are denied access to early learning experiences to help them succeed in school and life," said W. Steven Barnett, director of the institute and the report's author.
(Shhhhh ... don't tell Indiana that school systems here in Perry County have been, for years, way ahead in finding ways to make kindergarten happen without state help. If the word gets out, people from other areas of the state will come here, bringing businesses and buying homes and it will get all crowded and our county treasurer will have to find places to put all the extra tax revenues.)
States that do offer preschool education are cutting back in that area as spending tightens, according to the news release.
In it, Barnett explains a rapid increase in the spread of state preschool programs in the last several years has paused due to the economy, to the point that "in some states, enrollment has been cut back to the lowest levels in many years. Other states have cut funding and quality."
(Shhhhh ... don't tell the other states about Perry Central Community School 2008 co-valedictorian Dana Cronin reminiscing in her graduation address about her class' academic career stretching back to preschool, and the positive impact it had on her.)
Tara Bishop, assistant to the superintendent at Perry Central, said Friday that preschool has been offered there for 20 years, and "we've had full-day kindergarten for 30 years, easily." It's all been happening without state funding, she added, saying, "we just made it happen for our kids."
As we reported Thursday, 15 students graduated two days earlier in the latest of Cannelton City Schools' preschool commencement programs.
The city's elementary principal, Ginger Conrad, said in a January 2008 report to the school board that the implementation of a preschool program was showing up as improvements in older students' scores on Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Performance exams, and "we really feel like what we're doing with early literacy is making a big difference."
(Wait, maybe we should be telling other parts of the state and other states about how we're providing preschool education to our children. After all, when they grow up, they'll want to have people with whom they can carry on intelligent conversations. Besides, it would be the neighborly thing to do.)