Indy Approves $40K Pre-K Plan

Indianapolis recently approved a $40 million program to strengthen early childhood education for low income children


What Happened?

The Indianapolis City Council recently approved a $40 million program to strengthen early childhood education in an effort to help low income children gain access to educational resources. The five-year plan would enroll hundreds of at-risk youth in a city preschool program fueled by city funds and philanthropic aid.

Goal

Indianapolis is moving forward with a five-year plan to invest $40 million in early education programs targeted at low-income students. The argument behind the effort is that by investing in greater access to early education tools, at-risk youth will be less likely to engage in criminal activity when they grow up.

Research suggests when children from low-income families attend high-quality preschools, they are more successful academically down the road and less likely to commit crimes. The Indianapolis program will provide preschool scholarships to low-income families to address the root cause of poverty and violence in the city, the Indy Star reported.

Under the agreement, Indianapolis committed to contributing $20 million toward the scholarship program, which will be sourced from a combination of:

  • Investment income
  • Leftover homestead tax credit funds
  • Revenue from an authorization fee for charter schools

The remaining $20 million will come from private sector businesses and nonprofits throughout the community.

The preschool scholarship program aims to enroll between 700 and 1,200 children from at-risk neighborhoods into high-quality schools. All families making up to 127 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for the scholarships, the Indy Star reported.

Starting Young

According to a recent study conducted at New York University, providing students with key educational resources at a young age is directly correlated with long-term success in academia.

The research showed Tools Of The Mind’s educational approach in kindergarten focused on the development of executive functions greatly improved academic learning in the following years. The development of executive functions in early childhood helped at-risk students overcome deficits in school readiness often associated with poverty. Executive function skills studied in the research included:

  • Avoiding distractions
  • Focusing attention
  • Holding relevant details in working memory
  • Regulating impulsive behavior

When compared with peers in a control classroom, the researchers found children receiving lessons in executive function skills were better at focusing attention with distractions present, as well as reported better working memory. The success of the students exposed to executive function skills training in kindergarten carried over into first grade, where they achieved higher reading and vocabulary scores than the control group students.

When the study was conducted in high poverty schools, the differences between the two groups were even more significant. The study claims students equipped with executive function skills at a young age are better able to:

  • Control their social, emotional and cognitive behaviors with mental tools
  • Practice self-regulated learning all day
  • Regulate their own behaviors through complex, interactive learning activities

The skills worked on during the kindergarten study are intended to be the foundation for a long-term approach to academic and professional success.

Striving For Academic Excellence

Gov1 has reported on a variety of education initiatives to reduce poverty while increasing access to community resources .

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