(INDIANAPOLIS) - Indiana is one of only 15 states that did not apply for a piece of $500 million in federal grants aimed at bolstering early childhood education.
The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday that 35 states submitted proposals for Early Learning Challenge grants, including surrounding states Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.
Indiana is one of only 10 states without a state-funded preschool program, and state education officials say they didn't apply for the grants because they didn't feel Indiana would score high enough to qualify for the money.
"It would have been a waste of time to spend energy and important state resources on an application that would not have been successful," Indiana Department of Education spokesman Alex Damron says.
Mississippi and Hawaii, two states that also do not have state preschool programs, did apply for the federal money.
Critics contend that had Indiana applied for the early education grant, it could have used the money to start a pilot program.
"We pay federal taxes and we should try to draw down those dollars instead of giving them to other places," said Clara Anderson, the executive director of the nonprofit Children's Bureau. "Early childhood is key to how young people are going to
perform later. We need to take it seriously."
State Rep. Bill Crawford, D-Indianapolis, said he wrote a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett questioning why the state didn't apply for grant money. He said he never received a response.
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