breaking news

Troopers make more drug arrests, impaired driving up in Clark County

Christian groups push for preschool vouchers in Ohio


Saying it would promote economic opportunities that lead to stable, traditional families, a group of Ohio pastors and Christian educators on Thursday urged state lawmakers to put more money in pre-kindergarten education.

The group, organized by Shepherding the Next Generation, a Washington, D.C., based organization of evangelical pastors and ministry leaders, put their support behind an effort to get $100 million set aside in the state budget to fund vouchers for public and private preschool education for 3-year-olds from low-income families.

They cited research that showed children who first attended pre-kindergarten were more likely to succeed in school and get jobs later in life, and less likely to have out-of-wedlock children.

The program would save taxpayers long-term by making it less likely the kids would eventually end up on public assistance or get involved with the criminal justice system, said Gary Gepfrey, director of Bridge Ministries Marriage Enrichment Center in Dayton.

“We don’t have any disposable children in this nation, in this state,” said Finn Laursen, executive director of the Westlake, Ohio-based Christian Educators Association International. “And need to invest in them up front so we’re not doing catch-up, and so we’re not ushering them in as school dropouts who have bigger challenges outside in our culture.”

The current version of the preschool plan would provide some children from families making up to 200 percent of the poverty line — about $47,100 for a family of four — with $4,500 vouchers to pay for preschool at academically-qualifying institutions, said Ohio Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering. Ohio House Republicans have set aside $10 million for preschool vouchers in their version of the state budget. Lehner said she’s hoping state senators working on their own budget plan can scrape together $100 million for preschool, which would cover two years of preschool for roughly 11,000 children.

“We may not be able to get it done in this budget. But we will get every penny we can, we will dig and scratch, until we can find as much as we can, and we will be back next year with a movement that is growing stronger every single day,” said Lehner, chair of the Senate Education Committee.

State Rep. Ron Amstutz, R-Wooster, the chairman of the House Finance Committee, said the issue has a lot of support among Republican members.

“There’s a consensus in the House that’s pretty strong that some of the best value we can get is when we focus on (students) at a very early age,” Amstutz said.

Ohio spends $22 million on pre-kindergarten programs and ranks No. 37 for access to preschool among 4-year-olds, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. The state covered preschool costs for about 2 percent of 4-year-old students in 2012, compared to 19 percent in Michigan and 30 percent in Kentucky.

Staff Writer Jackie Borchardt contributed to this story


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Troopers make more drug arrests, impaired driving up in Clark County
Troopers make more drug arrests, impaired driving up in Clark County

Ohio troopers are making more drug arrests this year, a trend local leaders say they expect to see in Clark County, too. Felony drug arrests by troopers statewide are up 12 percent compared to this time last year, according to statistics from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. READ MORE: Springfield drug epidemic spreads, overdoses surpass all of last...
Police: Man shoots Facebook Live while recklessly driving on Florida beach
Police: Man shoots Facebook Live while recklessly driving on Florida beach

Police arrested a 27-year-old man after they said he drove recklessly on a stretch of beach on the west coast of Florida and streamed it on Facebook Live, WFTS reported. >> Read more trending news Clearwater police arrested Ryan Stiles after he allegedly drove on the beach from Clearwater to Caladesi Island. A Facebook Live video shows Stiles...
Georgia woman ignored 911 orders, drove away after being shot outside Starbucks
Georgia woman ignored 911 orders, drove away after being shot outside Starbucks

Georgia authorities are trying to piece together what led to a shooting that injured a woman Thursday afternoon.  >> Read more trending news About 2:30 p.m., a woman walked into a Starbucks in Atlanta and said she had been shot, Cobb County Police Officer Alicia Chilton told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Witnesses told WSB ...
NY to DC in 29 minutes? Elon Musk says he has verbal OK to build Hyperloop
NY to DC in 29 minutes? Elon Musk says he has verbal OK to build Hyperloop

A train ride from New York to Washington, D.C., in 29 minutes? Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said it’s possible, and added that a plan to build a Hyperloop One underground tube train has been given “verbal (government) approval,” NPR reported. >> Read more trending news Musk said that the Hyperloop’s planned route would...
‘I was just tired’: Man admits to throwing, killing 3-month-old son
‘I was just tired’: Man admits to throwing, killing 3-month-old son

A Kentucky man, claiming he was “just tired” when his 3-month-old son would not stop crying, admitting to throwing and killing the boy, WLKY reported. >> Read more trending news Cody Bates, of Louisville, is charged with the June death of the baby.  He is at Metro Corrections on a $1 million bond. Bates originally told police...
More Stories