2016-06-14 / Front Page

Ritz’s Imagine 2020 Agenda Includes An Expansion Of Pre-K For Young Hoosiers

by Michael Stanley
Staff Writer


Four-year-old Joslynn Edwards received a helping hand from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz as she selected a free book at Camp Family Literacy Night at the Owen County Public Library. (Staff Photo) Four-year-old Joslynn Edwards received a helping hand from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz as she selected a free book at Camp Family Literacy Night at the Owen County Public Library. (Staff Photo) Aimed at lifting Indiana’s K-12 education to new national heights, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz’s ‘Imagine 2020’ plan includes expanding quality pre-school for all four-year-old Hoosiers.

Ritz will discuss her plan in further detail as the November 8, 2016 General Election nears, but highlighted the importance of early childhood education to prepare Indiana’s youngest pupils for the kindergarten classroom during a visit last Thursday to the Owen County Public Library.

“Pre-K is a big part of what I want to do, making sure we are offering high-quality pre-K to four-year-old’s across the state of Indiana,” she said. “We absolutely need to make sure we have quality pre- K’s in the state of Indiana so when they start kindergarten, they aren’t behind and can stay on track for the rest of their elementary years.”

The superintendent’s State-supported pre-K pilot program began in 2015 in five Indiana counties (Allen, Lake, Marion, Vanderburgh, and Jackson). While an additional $20 million was invested by the Indiana General Assembly in the 2015 biennial budget to continue the program, Ritz said her plan for expanding pre-school offerings to all Hoosier children would cost less than one-percent of the State’s annual budgets, or $150 million added to the $8 billion annual budget. Additionally, federal funds are available to help support pre-K education in Indiana.

During Thursday’s Camp Family Literacy night at the Owen County Public Library, Ritz emphasized the vital importance of how literacy can continue to impact each of our lives.

“The importance of literacy in our job market now has really been raised significantly. Most of that is due to the advancement of technology,” Ritz added.

“The math you need to know and the literacy you must posses has really increased what kids need to know when they graduate, so we need to get those young minds going when they’re little and make sure they have the wrap-around programs as they move forward.

“Technology is just another form of learning and people used to ask me if we should always have more books and less technology. Reading is reading and I think little one’s will always be gravitated toward the real book, the turning of the pages. There are so many things taught with the actual book, but when you read online as well you get the same benefits of actual reading. We just have to embrace technology and remember that reading will never go away, it will always be needed. There will always be a form of what we need to be doing with reading, within our careers.”

The plan also includes revising the State’s school funding formula to ensure all Hoosier students have access to adequate programs, recruiting and retaining superior teachers and to modify the school accountability system for rating school quality. Ritz also aims for Indiana to tout the highest high school graduation rate in the country, ensuring all schools have sufficient counselors to prepare students for college or the career field.

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