A Closer Look at House Bill 1175: Early Learning Advisory Council

SIOUX FALLS S.D.- South Dakota lawmakers are considering a measure to address an “early learning” gap that might be affecting kids.

Robin Mediger is a kindergarten teacher who has taught at John Harris Elementary for 22 years. She says there are many benefits for students who attend preschool.

“They have a big math base, they have literacy foundation and they are socially ready,” said Mediger.

She says those who do not attend preschool tend to need more practice with their social skills. It can also creates an education gap among students.

“We’re exposing them right away, that first exposure to letters and letter sounds and we practice those pieces first. So it takes them a little bit longer to get to our end goals of kindergarten. So with preschool, they’d just be one step ahead,” said Mediger.

Right now the state does not offer any funding for preschool programs and some lower-income families can’t afford preschool. This is one reason why Representative Erin Healy is sponsoring House Bill 1175. The bill would create an “Early Learning Advisory Council.” The council would research existing pre-k programs and possibly use grant funding to create more early childhood education opportunities.

“If we were to implement this, we would be able to serve so many more children in the state of South Dakota who currently don’t have access to pre-k education,” said Healy.

Healy believes that those who miss out on preschool, miss out on lifelong benefits.

“We are going to see a higher level of employability, a greater earning potential, raised accountability. These kids are going to be less likely to be incarcerated,” said Healy.

All benefits that she believes are worth a closer look.

Criticism of the bill includes the yearly cost it would take to fund the council, which is estimated to be $30,000. Some argue that parents should be the ones to prepare their kids for kindergarten.


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