Statewide pre-K education proposed by Glenda Ritz

Democrat Glenda Ritz smiles on the steps of the old St. Joseph County Courthouse in downtown South Bend on Friday, June 5, 2015. (Krystal Vivian/95.3 MNC)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana state schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz is calling on lawmakers to adopt a pre-kindergarten program that would include all students regardless of family income.

Ritz introduced the proposal Tuesday, saying the state needs to make pre-kindergarten schooling available statewide by 2020. Ritz says Indiana can’t have a system where some students are exposed to early childhood education “while many of our poorest and neediest are not.” She says “the funds are there if the political will exists.”

Ritz is the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Indiana. She is pushing the program as she seeks re-election.

Despite conservative opposition to pre-K programs, Republican Gov. Mike Pence raised the possibility last week when he inquired about federal funding for similar programming that he previously had opted not to pursue.

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