Last week Governor Pence announced that his administration would not seek a federal education grant that could have brought up to 80 million dollars to Indiana to fund pre-kindergarten education. According to the Indianapolis Star, Pence’s Family and Social Services Administration had worked with the state Department of Education writing this grant and it came as a surprise that the Governor would not submit the grant. A previous grant submitted last year was rejected. The odds of getting funded this year are thought to be greatly improved because Indiana is one of just two states labeled ‘category one’ states, identified as those states with highest need.
In an opinion piece published Monday on the Indystar website, Pence defended his decision, saying that Indiana has its own, five county, pre-K pilot program that will start next year and, “It is important not to allow the lure of federal grant dollars to define our state’s mission and programs.”
State Superintendent, Glenda Ritz, also published an opinion piece on the website. She stressed that after last year’s application was rejected, the governor reiterated his support to seek federal funds this year. She expressed disappointment that, after the grant was completed, the Governor changed his mind and would not sign it. Her opinion piece says, “Published reports indicate the governor was under intense lobbying from out-of-state special interests. Those special interests wanted to reject federal support for early childhood education.”
On Monday Senator Donnelly’s office issued a press release also expressing disappointment with the decision. In a letter to the Governor, Donnelly asked Pence to provide answers to specific questions about why the Governor decided not to submit the grant.
The deadline for submission is today. The grant cannot be submitted without the Governor’s signature.